Press Room for the Sciencenter

Sciencenter closed to the public

March 13, 2020

The Sciencenter has been closely following guidance from the CDC, New York State and Tompkins County Health Department regarding COVID-19. The health and safety of our visitors, volunteers, and staff is our utmost concern.

At this time, and due to the state of emergency declared by Tompkins County, the Sciencenter has decided that the best course of action for public health is to close to the public starting Saturday, March 14, 2020. We will continue to monitor the situation closely when making decisions about reopening.

The Sciencenter is committed to remaining a place where we all explore, connect, and create through science. During these uncertain times, your support is needed more than ever. Please consider making a donation to the Sciencenter today.
Please check our website for the latest information. If you have questions please reach out to us at

For all media inquiries, please contact:
Kelly Barclay
Public and Media Relations Manager
(607) 272-0600 ×114


Sciencenter Names New Executive Director

Ithaca, New York – The Board of Trustees of the Sciencenter announced today that after several months of careful deliberation, Dean Briere has decided not to renew his contract to serve as Executive Director of the Sciencenter. The Board selected Michelle Kortenaar, who has served the Sciencenter in various capacities since 2010, including, most recently, as Vice President of Strategic Development, to succeed Mr. Briere as Executive Director.

“We are very grateful to Dean for his many contributions to the growth and success of the Sciencenter during his tenure,” said Melinda Oakes, the Sciencenter Board Chair. “Under his leadership, the Sciencenter strengthened partnerships with key members of the community, significantly increased outreach to and access for rural communities, and created interactive programming for adults. Dean also played a critical leadership role in, among other things, the design and development of a number of new exhibits, the revitalization of the Sciencenter’s strategic plan, the renovation of the early-childhood space, and in overseeing the steady growth of the Sciencenter’s endowment. We would like to thank him for his dedication and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

“I am honored to have served the Sciencenter and the Ithaca community for the past three years,” said Briere. “And I am thrilled that the Board of Trustees has chosen Michelle to succeed me. Her background and experience in education, exhibits, guest services, and development uniquely qualify her to lead the Sciencenter forward as it cultivates a broad community of curious, confident, critical thinkers.”

The transition from Mr. Briere to Ms. Kortenaar is effective as of November 22, though Mr. Briere has agreed to serve in a consulting capacity to help ensure a smooth transition for the Sciencenter’s new leadership.

The Board stated: “We are very pleased to announce Michelle Kortenaar’s appointment as the new Executive Director of the Sciencenter. Her years of service as a member of the Sciencenter’s leadership team give her a breadth and depth of knowledge of the Sciencenter, its employees, the communities it serves, and its programs and initiatives. When coupled with her demonstrated commitment to and passion for the organization’s mission and vision, she is an ideal leader for the Sciencenter.”

“I am humbled and excited to be assuming leadership of the talented team at the Sciencenter,” said Michelle Kortenaar. “Together we will engage our community by making science accessible to all. I am grateful to Dean for his generosity and look forward to guiding the Sciencenter in new directions while continuing to build on the strategic goals developed under his able leadership.”

Michelle Kortenaar has been at the Sciencenter since 2010, serving as Director of Education, Senior Director of Engagement and Learning, and most recently as Vice President of Strategic Development. Michelle’s career has focused on providing children with opportunities to explore science through open-ended experiences and discovery. Michelle has degrees in both science and education. Michelle’s career began as a physics and biology teacher in Toronto, Canada and in West Orange, NJ. She served as chair of the math and science departments at her last school. Michelle was recruited as the founding director of a multi-department science center at a large summer camp in Milford, PA. Michelle has led the Sciencenter’s work on a number of federal grants – including the Collaborative for Early Science Learning. She is currently the Principal Investigator of a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded grant – that creates opportunities for the Sciencenter to partner with Cornell University to engage public audiences in current NSF-funded STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) research. Michelle serves on the extended leadership team of the National Informal STEM Education Network. She spearheaded the Sciencenter’s partnership with many local institutions including Tompkins County Head Start. She has published in the field and often speaks at national conferences about informal science education and national partnerships.

New veterinary exhibit to open in Sciencenter’s Curiosity Corner

ITHACA, New York – A new exhibit focused around veterinary science is opening to the public at the Sciencenter this weekend, on Saturday, June 22 at 10 am. During this grand opening, attendees can explore the new exhibit, interact with live animals, and explore our Tidepool Touch Tank.

Modeled after a real veterinarian’s office this new exhibit creates an immersive environment where children can role play as veterinarians. Children can examine real X-rays of animals, weigh stuffed animals on scales, clean stuffed animals in the grooming station, and more.

The veterinary exhibit is designed for young learners and will be located in the Sciencenter’s newly renovated Curiosity Corner. The Curiosity Corner is a vibrant, safe environment, for the Sciencenter’s youngest guests (ages four and under). The Curiosity Corner includes a newly expanded infant area, water table, air station, activity table, and more.

The veterinary exhibit was made possible thanks to grants from Triad Foundation, Tompkins County Tourism Program, and the Howland Foundation as administered by the Community Foundation of Tompkins County.

Our new veterinary exhibit opens to the public this weekend, Saturday, June 22, 10 am – 5 pm. This exhibition is included with regular museum admission. For more information call 607-272-0600, or visit our website at

Download Press Release

Sciencenter Honors Beverly J. Martin with Community Celebration

Ithaca, New York – The Sciencenter partnered with Beverly J. Martin Elementary School to honor and celebrate the legacy of educator and community leader, Beverly J. Martin. Beverly J. Martin’s work spanned four decades as a teacher and principal of Central Elementary School. She was an inspirational presence, receiving numerous national and local awards. Martin offered a home for a science activity program at Central School, which was the inspiration for what eventually became the Sciencenter.

The celebration was kicked off at Beverly J. Martin Elementary School the afternoon of Thursday, April 11th. A plaque for Martin, which would become a part of the Sciencenter’s Wall of Inspiration, was unveiled to attendees. Students also presented various science projects they worked on during the presentation, and Sciencenter educators engaged students with a liquid nitrogen demonstration.

Later during the evening of April 11th, the Sciencenter continued the celebration with a community event free and open to the public. The event was attended by community leaders, Beverly J. Martin educators, and students, as well as families from throughout the community. The night featured a special ceremony where Beverly J. Martin’s plaque was unveiled in its place on the Sciencenter’s Wall of Inspiration.

“We are so pleased to be honoring Beverly J. Martin on the Sciencenter’s Wall of Inspiration” said Dean Briere, executive director of the Sciencenter. “Her commitment to science inspired our founders, Ilma Levine and Debbie Levin, to bring the Sciencenter to life. The Sciencenter shares the values of these enterprising educators – science, community, and accessibility – key directional indicators of the Sciencenter’s new community-driven strategic framework. And through their initial efforts we have spent over 35 years exploring, connecting, and creating together!”

In the News :


  • December 19. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Keeps Families Busy During Holiday Break
  • November 6. Tompkins Weekly. Discover the World: Eight-member Discovery Trail explores nature, science and culture
  • November 4. Ithaca Journal. Ithaca’s Sciencenter to Donate to Museums Affected by Recent Disasters
  • October 19. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Promises Hair-Raising Halloween
  • September 21. Ithaca Journal. Fall into Science Fun at the Sciencenter
  • August 24. Cornell News. Fun, hands-on course teaches science communication
  • August 10. Ithaca Journal. August Fun at the Sciencenter Include Eclipse Party and More
  • August – September. Dimensions. Millenials: Are Science Centers and Museums Attracting and Retaining Them?
  • July – August. Informal Learning Review. The Discovery Trail: A Community Partnership for Museums and Libraries
  • July 20. Ithaca Journal. Stay Cool and Have Fun this Summer
  • June 22. Ithaca Journal. Playground, Touch Tank, Grossology, and more
  • May-June. Dimensions. The Business of Science Centers
  • May 12. The Ithaca Voice. Grossologgy Exhibit Opens at the Sciencenter
  • May 15. Tompkins Weekly. Discover the Trail! Group of Institutions Connect Art, History, Literature, Science, and Natural World
  • May 12. The Ithaca Voice. Grossologfy Exhibit Opens at the Sciencenter
  • May 9. Ithaca Journal. Explore the Gross Side of Science
  • April 29. Ithaca Times. Meet the New Executive Director of the Sciencenter
  • April 28. Lansing Star. Trautmann Honored by Discover Trail
  • April 4. Ithaca Journal. Spring into Science this Month at the Sciencenter
  • March 13. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter’s multi-year campaign raised $4.1M
  • March 9. Ithaca Journal. Adventure + Discovery = Sciencenter Summer Camp
  • February 16. Ithaca Journal. Spend Winter Break with Sciencenter Next Week
  • February 12. Tompkins Weekly. Human Service Coalition set to recognize three
  • January 15. Finger Lakes Woman Magazine. Winter Offerings at the Sciencenter
  • January 8. Tompkins Weekly. New Sciencenter Exhibition Reveals Inside Story About Toys
  • January 4. Ithaca Times. New Sciencenter Exhibit Aims to Teach Through Play
  • January 4. Life in the Finger Lakes. Learning Through Play at Ithaca’s Sciencenter


  • December 12. Tompkins Weekly. ‘Human Origins’ Headline Discovery Trail Weekend
  • December 9. Ithaca Voice. Tompkins Projects Receive $3.2 Million from Economic Development Awards
  • November 17. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Offers Special Programs for Families this Fall
  • October 20. Ithaca Journal. Science Gets Spooky at the Sciencenter
  • Fall 2016. New York Space Grant News. Fall 2016 Newsletter
  • September 20. PR Log. Sciencenter Sustainability Gallery Bears Fruit
  • September 16. Auburn Citizen. Ithaca Sciencenter Launches Movement Exhibit
  • September 6. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Kicks Off Fall with More Science Fun
  • August 23. Ithaca Times. Discover Others: Field Trips Help Students Meet Diverse Community
  • August 11. Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source. Students Make Invention Initiative in Ithaca
  • August 3. Ithaca Journal. New Curiosity Playgrounf at Sciencenter Fosters Learning, Fun
  • August 1. Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce Chambergram. Member Profile: Sciencenter Executive Director Announces Retirement
  • July 28. Lansing Star. Sciencenter Executive Director Trautmann Announces Retirement
  • July 26. CNY Business Journal. Sciencenter Executive Director Trautmann Announces Retirement
  • July 26. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Executive Director Retiring
  • June 16. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Filled with Fun and Learning this Summer
  • June 7. Finger Lakes Times. Romulus Students Celebrate Science
  • May 20. Ithaca Times. All Part of a Larger Plan, Alternative Energy Options for Businesses
  • May 14. Ithaca Journal. Volunteers come out for the Sciencenter. Photo Gallery
  • April 5. IMLS UpNext Blog. Museums for All Offers Science for All at the Sciencenter
  • March 10. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Summer Camps Offer Learning and Adventure
  • February 11. Ithaca Journal. Spend Winter Break at the Sciencenter
  • January 5. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Opens Two New Exhibits
  • January 5. Ithaca Voice. Bloodsuckers Coming to Ithaca’s Sciencenter


  • December 10. Ithaca Journal. Learn Fun Lessons at Sciencenter in December
  • November 5. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Has Fun Planned Inside and Out
  • November 1. Finger Lakes Woman. Fall Offerings at the Sciencenter
  • October 22. Cornell Daily Sun. Non-Profit Solar Project Raises $17,000
  • October 15. Cornell Chronicle. Educators Meet to Bolster Undergrad STEM Outreach
  • October 14. Ithaca Journal. Explore How Science Gets Spooky
  • September 28. WENY. Mini-Golf Monday: Sciencenter’s New Course
  • September 23. Ithaca Week. Sciencenter Mini-Golf Reopens with Interactive Exhibits
  • September 22. Ithaca Week. Touch Tank Highlights Sciencenter’s Focus on Local Conservation
  • August 13. Ithaca Journal. Activities and Fun for All at the Sciencenter
  • August 10. Tompkins Weekly. Sciencenter Opens New Tidepool Tank
  • August 7. Ithaca Journal. Horseshoe Crabs’ Debut
  • August 5. Ithaca Times. Redesigned Exhibit to Open at the Sciencenter
  • July 29. WENY. Twin Tiers Sunday
  • July 11. Ithaca Journal. Touch and Learn: Enjoy Summer Museum Fun with Children
  • July 9. Ithaca Journal. Summertime Science Keeps Kids’ Minds Sharp
  • July 9. WRGB Channel 6 News. Road Trippin’: Ithaca
  • June 25. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Offers a Summer of Hands-on Fun
  • June 19. WETM 13 My Twin Tiers. Day Trippin’: Things Get Weird at the Sciencenter this Summer
  • June 15. Tompkins Weekly. Change Sweeping Through Sciencenter
  • June 11. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Raises Money to Renew and Reach Out
  • June 10. WHCU 95.5FM/870AM. Sciencenter Breaks Ground for Renovation Project
  • June 10. IthacaVoice. Sciencenter Launches Capital Campaign
  • June 9. Finger Lakes Woman. A Summer of Hands-on Fun Awaits at the Sciencenter
  • May 14. Ithaca Journal. Strange Matter is Coming to the Sciencenter
  • May 1. UpNext: IMLS Blog. Science from the Start Kicks Off at the Sciencenter
  • April 21. InformalScience. Sciencenter And Cornell University Research On Early Childhood Cognition
  • April 20 – 24. Tompkins Weekly. Early Explorers Celebrated at Sciencenter
  • April – May 2015. Finger Lakes Woman. Learning + Adventure = Sciencenter Summer Camp
  • April 9. Ithaca Times. Eight Local Cultural Institutions Provide a Linked Learning Experience
  • April 9. Ithaca Journal. Exhibits, Activities Highlight Sciencenter Spring List
  • March 11. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Connection: Celebrate NanoDays at the Sciencenter
  • February 27. Cornell Chronicle. Undergrads Make Connections Through Biology and Service
  • February – March 2015. Finger Lakes Woman. Look Who’s Living in the Trees
  • February 12. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Connection: Indoor Fun for Winter Break
  • February 5. Ithaca Journal. New Sciencenter Exhibit Features Bones on a Bike
  • January 8. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Connection: ‘TreeHouses’ Exhibition Opens Saturday at Sciencenter
  • January 8. Ithaca Journal. New Sciencenter Exhibit to Open


  • December 21. Time Warner Cable News. Sciencenter Opens New Undersea Exhibit in Ithaca
  • December 18. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Adds Virtual Underwater Video Exhibit
  • December 1. AAA Travel Guide. Winter Fun
  • November 23. WETM Channel 18. Mars Rover Exhibit
  • November 3. Tompkins Weekly. Journey to the Red Planet at Sciencenter
  • November 1. Ithaca Journal. Mars Rover Lands at Sciencenter
  • June 16. Tompkins Weekly. Students Exhibit Science Knowledge
  • June 16. Tompkins Weekly. Rainforest Explorers
  • May 20. Cornellcast. Students in Rapid Prototpying course demo inventions at Sciencenter (VIDEO)
  • April 24. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Connection: Sciencenter Summer Camp is Around the Corner
  • April 23. Ithaca Times. Hot on the Trail
  • April – May 2014. Finger Lakes Woman. Join us for Sciencenter Summer Camp
  • March 22. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Opens Nano Exhibit Today
  • March 20. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Connection: Sciencenter Presents NanoDays on Saturday
  • March 6. Fox 40 WICZ. Walking the Solar System with the Force Behind Cosmos. (VIDEO)
  • March 5. Fox 40 WICZ. Sagan’s Influence Still Felt as Cosmos Relaunches. (VIDEO)
  • February 13. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Connection: Round Up Indoor Fun During Winter Break
  • February – March 2014. Finger Lakes Woman. Turtle Travels: Experience Life in the Slow Lane
  • Spring 2014. Ithaca Child. Who is Tim Scott? And How Does He Make Science Engaging?
  • January 16. Ithaca Journal. Turtle Travels Opens Saturday at Sciencenter
  • January 9. Ithaca Journal. Sciencenter Connection: Featured Exhibition “Turtle Travels” Opens January 18
  • January 6. Ithaca Journal. Students Teaching Students Science
  • December 2013 – January 2014. Finger Lakes Woman. Science Fun for the Whole Family



    If you’re interested in older archived news articles or press releases please contact Amy Gaulke, Public & Media Relations Manager, at (607) 272-0600 ×14 or

  • Additional Information:

    Two Approaches to Addressing Fracking in New York State (download)

    Executive Director Charlie Trautmann and Director of Program Michelle Kortenaar discuss the Sciencenter’s creative approach to teaching the public about hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

    Organizational Stability Facilitates Succession – and Attracts Candidates (download)

    Executive Director Charlie Trautmann outlines the key building blocks of organizational stability.

    Attendance at Science Centers (download)

    Christine Ruffo (ASTC), James Chung (Reach Advisors), and Charlie Trautmann (Sciencenter, Ithaca, NY) present the results of a 10-year study of attendance at science centers during the 2013 ASTC Annual Conference in Albuquerque, NM.

    Orienting New Team Members for Long-Term Success, Dimensions, the bimonthly magazine of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), July – August 2013 (download)

    Sciencenter Executive Director Charlie Trautmann outlines the Sciencenter orientation process.

    Our Boards in Action: Interview with Robin Davisson, PhD (download)

    ASTC Dimensions, May-Jun 2013, p. 14) Davisson, chair of the Sciencenter’s board of trustees, discusses the board-staff relationship and the Sciencenter’s impact on its community.

    Attendance at Science Centers: Trends from 2002-2011 (download)

    (Trautmann, C.H. and Ruffo, C., Informal Learning Review, Vol. 119, Mar-Apr 2013, pp. 18-21) A report on ten years of attendance data from 107 science museums worldwide and implications for the field.

    Strategies for Financial Health, Dimensions, the bimonthly magazine of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), July-August 2011 (download)

    Sciencenter Executive Director Charlie Trautmann and Deputy Director Lara Litchfield-Kimber report to the ASTC community on how the Sciencenter has managed to stay financially healthy during economically tough times.

    Monograph on Sustainability and Global Warming (download)

    Sciencenter Executive Director Charlie Trautmann visited 34 European museums in 2007 to see how they address issues in sustainability and global warming.


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