Discovery Center of Idaho announces new leadership

The Discovery Center of Idaho, one of Boise’s signature cultural groups, will get a new executive director in 2016.
The Discovery Center of Idaho, one of Boise’s signature cultural groups, will get a new executive director in 2016. Idaho Statesman file

The Discovery Center of Idaho will get a new executive director for Christmas. Eric Miller, 50, who started as DCI’s exhibit director in 2014 will transition will replace current ED Kristine Barney in January 2016.

Mark O’Brien, who has collaborated with Miller on several projects over the years with his company Imagination Mechanics, will take over as exhibit director. Miller brought O’Brien on first as a contractor to design DCI’s new Young Learner’s Area, a dedicated spot that engages kids 5 years old and younger.

Since becoming exhibit director, Miller has made a splash in Boise by building original exhibits, “Launch It,” that dealt with ideas of propulsion, “Fizzyology,” about the science of bubbles, and its current exhibit “SuperStruct,” that focuses on how thing are built.

“Since I started, I’ve been taking the Discovery Center in a direction I’m really supportive of, and I’m really excited to be able to steer us in there,” Miller says.

When Barney started at DCI in 2014, one of her first acts was to hire Miller. She knew he had the skills to lead the hands-on science center because he served as interim director at his previous job at Mobius Science Center and Children’s Museum in Spokane.

“Not many small nonprofits have this kind of depth on their org-chart,” Barney says.

The center has grown under Barney’s leadership. The lobby and gift shop got a much needed remodel in 2014. She boosted the center’s Adult Night programs, and helped secure a $330,000 Micron Foundation grant to expand the center’s workshop, galleries an STEM learning programs.

The Center reopened after a few weeks of construction on Nov. 20 with a new look and membership started to grow, Miller says.

With all this forward momentum, the Center is in a good place for this kind of change, Barney says.

“Eric certainly has what it takes to take DCI to the next level,” she says.

Miller’s mission is to continue to develop DCI as a production house for new, original exhibits, to help it outgrow its current space, then lead the push to build a new center.

“My goal is to make DCI as efficient and sustainable as possible, while simultaneously starting the push to build a new center,” Miller says. “That’s likely a few years away, but you have to start sometime.”

Miller’s first official day will be Jan. 2, 2016. O’Brien’s first official day will be Dec. 28, although he currently is working at the Center on contract.

Barney is exploring several opportunities in the Boise area, and is looking forward to some time off, she says.

About Eric Miller

Miller grew up in Alaska. He has a degree in museum studies and sculpture from the University of Oregon and returned to his home state and the Anchorage Imaginarium, where he worked for 10 years. From there Miller went to Spokane’s Mobius Science Center and Children’s Museum, where he helped redesign that center and served as interim director. He also currently consults for other centers around the country.

Visit DCI

Discovery Center of Idaho, 131 W. Myrtle St., Boise. Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. 131 Myrtle St., Boise. $10 general, $8 seniors, $7 children 3-17. Free for ages 2 and younger and members. Military and AAA will get special rates. 343-9895, dcidaho.org.