Curious facts never cease to enthrall Janine Boire. With childlike fascination, the Discovery Center of Idahos executive director recites a number of them. In her job, she learns something new every day, she says.
Did you know that when the International Space Station is over Boise, its only 250 miles up? Thats closer than Lewiston! she says.
It takes a curious mind to run a science center, and that fits Boire, who since childhood has looked at the world, and asked Why?
Its a great question. It leads you to more and more questions, and each one gets you closer to an answer, Boire says.
That philosophy reflects Boires approach to running DCI, where shes been at the helm since 2004.
My goal is to keep curiosity alive. I want people to look at an exhibit and ask, What does that do? she says.
That idea will echo in the extreme next month when the center begins hosting the traveling exhibit Bodies Revealed. The exhibit literally strips away the mysteries of the human body by removing the skin from preserved cadavers to expose the workings underneath. It should by all accounts elicit the maximum amount of what-does-that-do questions, and that will make Boire very happy.
Boire has spent most of her adult life working in science centers across the country. She has also worked for LEAD, an organization that teaches sustainable leadership skills to people on a global scale.
Coming to Boise gave Boire a chance to tune into whats really important to her, which is to engage people of all ages in the process of exploring the universe through science, she says.
When I see parents or grandparents laughing, being curious and discovering alongside their children or grandchildren on the exhibit floor, it warms my heart, she says. I think sharing a lifelong love of learning is the best gift we can give our children.[0x0b]
Booking Bodies Revealed is a bold step. Is it the biggest exhibit for the center?
It is the largest traveling exhibition DCI has mounted in a number of ways. Not only will it take up about half the centers 12,000-square-foot exhibit space and require hundreds of additional volunteers (please tell all your friends), its a game changer for us.
Most people think the main reason to visit the center is if you have children. We see this exhibit as an opportunity to make sure people know we have something for all ages. It also kicks off a renewed strategy of bringing in traveling exhibits in addition to producing them in-house which will always be a strength for DCI. Bringing in an extraordinary show every few years gives us another way to be the exceptional science center this community deserves.
How do you feel about the controversy that surrounds the show?
At first I wasnt sure this was something I personally wanted to see, but given my responsibility as the director of a science center, I pushed through my reticence. When I saw the exhibition for the first time, I was awestruck. It provides a singular opportunity to see inside ourselves. Besides breaking through the social norm of public display of human remains, there are questions about the source of the bodies. We spent the last two years looking into the ghastly and contrived allegations that a source for the bodies was political prisoners. This misinformation was propagated by a competing exhibition company and later shown to be false. We have confirmation that the people whose remains are included in the exhibit, or their families, have donated their bodies for just such a purpose. One of the interesting and unexpected outcomes of visiting these exhibitions is that, after seeing them, many visitors say they plan to donate their remains for science, including for similar exhibitions.
What is your goal for the center in the next five years?
DCI turns 25 in 2014, and we have some great dreams. Earlier this year, the board set the audacious goal of doubling the centers impact over the next 10 years. With Bodies Revealed, we may get close to that within one year, but we have our eye on long-term sustainability. We are diving into a strategic planning process to develop the vision and refine our business model to drive the next 25 years. The community will be hearing more as the plan develops.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Seeing DCI weave deeper into the social fabric of our community. Thats a little tough to quantify. Weve almost doubled our attendance over the last few years. I think weve had some successful partnerships. For example, Junior League of Boise, the organization that founded DCI, is helping recruit the hundreds of volunteers well need to operate Bodies Revealed. Last year we partnered with Idaho Public Television, Boise States College of Engineering, Idaho National Laboratory and the Micron Foundation to bring public televisions Nova to Boise for an outreach program associated with its four-part series all about material science, Making Stuff.
What is the greatest virtue you admire in others?
There are actually two that I think are intrinsically linked: courage and tenacity. I often think of that quote by Winston Churchill: Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities ... because it is the quality which guarantees all others. I see tenacity as an important corollary the courage to continue to completion.
In all of history, with whom would you most like to dine?
Eleanor Roosevelt. I am in awe of her instrumental role in helping to found the United Nations and her work in creating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She had a singular leadership style that challenged all around her to make a brighter future.
What would people be most surprised to find out about you?
As a bit of a dare from my older brother, I ended up being a 1983 Washington State Womens Bucksaw Champion maybe not so surprising to others, but it sure surprised me.
Whats on your bedside reading table?
Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens, by K.C. Cole, is the story of Frank Oppenheimer, the exceptional/eccentric character who founded the Exploratorium in San Francisco, and Rod Machados Private Pilot Handbook, which was a gift from the Idaho Ninety-Nines through Barbara Morgan. Its our states chapter of an international organization started by Amelia Earhart and 98 of her fellow women pilots dedicated to inspiring women to become pilots. These ladies are marvelous! It also inspires me to fulfill my dream of becoming a pilot.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Chocolate mousse at Le Café de Paris yummmm.
Whats on your playlist?
Martha and the Vandellas, Paolo Nutini, Tony Bennett, Billy Idol, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Bobby McFerrin, Ella Fitzgerald, Little Richard, and of course Boises own favorite son, Curtis Stigers.
What is your motto?
Onward! Someone once tried to correct me and said onward and upward. I responded that I really did just mean onward. Sometimes life is upward, but not always. Its what we do in the face of those other times to change the trajectory to upward that defines a life well lived.
Dana Oland is a former professional dancer and member of Actors Equity who writes about performing and visual arts for the Idaho Statesman. She also writes about food, wine, pets, jazz and other aspects of the good life in Boise. Read more arts coverage in her blog at Voices.IdahoStatesman.com/oland.