While still looking for a permanent home, the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum has found a new executive director.
Ethan Lobdell will replace Jean Lewis, the outgoing director. The middle school head at Teton Science Schools’ Mountain Academy, Lobdell will start his new role at the museum April 6.
“This professional opportunity is amazing,” he said. “It’s a privilege to work with students in the valley in any capacity.”
Lobdell takes over from Lewis as the museum is still in search of a forever home. Lewis oversaw a period of growth at the museum, in terms of programming and students served, and she steered it toward a partnership with Teton County School District No. 1 that led to its current, but still temporary, spot in the modular buildings outside Jackson Elementary School.
That location, which opened at the beginning of the summer, allowed the museum to keep its doors open and work directly with school district students. Lewis sees the partnership with the district as evidence of the museum’s place in the educational ecosystem of Teton County.
“We really started as place-based for parents and children,” she said, “but we’ve evolved into so much more. We’ve become more of an essential education organization.”
As helpful as the move to the school district buildings was, it is not a long-term fix. The district is going through the process of adapting the modular buildings into employee housing, which will force it to find a more permanent place.
“That was one piece that really excites him,” Lewis said, “working with the school district, helping define not only where but how we are going to secure that long-term home.”
Lewis said she will likely stay in education after she leaves the museum, but she doesn’t have any specific plans yet. She will stay on with the museum for six months after Lobdell starts to help facilitate a smooth transition to the new leadership.
Lobdell plans on using that time to learn as much as he can about the museum’s operation and partnerships before making any changes. He said learning as much as he can about the museum will give him the leverage to convince Jacksonites to help in the museum’s quest to find a permanent home.
“If we are going to galvanize the community to support us, we need to make sure our programming is great,” he said. “I want to have the stories and awareness of all the organization has to offer.”