Las Vegas Sun

October 2, 2014

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SIX QUESTIONS:

Linda Quinn, executive director of the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum

Three years after taking charge, Quinn muses on the past and the future of the museum

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Tiffany Brown

It’s not about fixing it anymore,” said Linda Quinn, executive director of the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum, about the myriad problems afflicting the museum when she took charge three years ago. “We’re fixed.”

Linda Quinn moved here from Charlotte, N.C., three years ago to run the outdated, financially strapped Lied Discovery Children’s Museum. The museum, next to the Las Vegas Library in the downtown Cultural Corridor, has overhauled its exhibits, is now operating in the black and has been asked to move onto the campus of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

Quinn, its executive director, discussed the museum with the Sun.

Where are things with the Smith Center?

They extended an invitation. We’re looking at it. We’re seeing it as a viable location, but three years ago, before I arrived, we made an announcement that we were moving to Town Square and it didn’t work so I’d rather just say that we’re looking into it. There is absolutely nothing that says we have to leave.

Why move?

It really becomes a matter of how we can better serve the community. It’s even more important now with the growth we’re experiencing here. We need to update our facilities and be in a location that is a lot more family friendly. But there is not a time line. And we’re still here for three years. It’s actually a good building. It’s built by Anthony Predock.

There is a lot of discussion about the entrance and the homeless men hanging out in front of the entrance. Is that a concern?

We’re changing the entrance. It’s not a big, structural change. It will only cost us a wall and a sidewall. Separating the entrance will be a big hurdle for us. Also, people come in all the time thinking we should be free because they think we’re part of the library.

What was the museum like when you arrived?

When I came, half of this floor was empty. Exhibits had aged out. The museum experience had aged out. There was no place to go but up. We were $432,000 in debt. In 12 months we were out of debt. We’ve run in the black every year and raised $3 million for new exhibits. It’s not about fixing it anymore. We’re fixed.

To what do you attribute to the success?

I’m a CPA with a law degree. I’m able to fix what’s broken. I’ve taken nonprofits and helped bring them to financial stability. Also, we have a board that is more active than your average board. They show up to meetings. You ask them to do a task and they follow up. I can’t say enough about the board and the community.

How is this community different from others?

We have the casinos. The emphasis on marketing for those attractions in Charlotte was greater. The museum was actually seen by the tourism board as a positive. You go to Chicago to go to all the museums. We’re here to serve the families, the people who live here.

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