Peppy Linden, who over a 20-year period has grown the Virginia Discovery Museum from infancy into a Downtown Mall landmark and education destination for thousands of area children and families, has announced plans to retire in 2011.
Linden announced her plans today to the Virginia Discovery Museum Board of Directors and Museum staff.
“I have loved this place for so long, and I have loved the people who have come through our doors over the past 20 years, especially the children,” said Linden. “I am proud of the positive impact we have had on early childhood education in our community, and how we have brought children and families closer together.
“When we started, we were in a house on Ackley Lane near the Gordon Avenue Library. When the Mall building came our way, we had 30 days to get it ready and move in, and we pulled it off and just grew from there.
“I am so grateful for the staff and volunteers over the years who have put in the countless hours, who have helped children find their way, who have pointed parents to the bathroom, who have built the exhibits and manned the front door. Thousands of donors have invested in us and their support has had a tremendous impact on the lives of young people in our area.”
Since relocating to the Downtown Mall in 1990, the Virginia Discovery Museum has welcomed over 885,000 visitors and become an anchor and economic driver for the Mall’s East End. Community outreach programs and summer camps have become a mainstay.
The Discovery Museum is known in museum circles for its rotating exhibitions, a rarity among children’s museums, and daily programming. Recent original exhibitions featured in the Back Gallery have included Freedom of Expression, a partnership with the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, and Illumination Station: Light, Lasers, Lenses. The Virginia Discovery Museum was the only children’s museum in Virginia to host the Smithsonian Institution’s New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music installation.
“The Virginia Discovery Museum is ‘the house that Peppy built,’ and her impact on the community has been nothing short of amazing,” said Elizabeth Chew, Museum Board Chair. “She has worked tirelessly to engage and teach young minds. But I also know some of her most rewarding moments have come when parents have thanked her for what they have learned from their own children.”
The Museum's Board of Directors is assembling a search committee to begin a national search for a new executive director who will build on Linden’s success. The Board is currently conducting a strategic planning process that will guide the future direction of the Museum, and the next executive director will oversee execution of the new strategic plan.
“Peppy has gotten us to the point where we can think about our future in new and exciting ways,” added Chew. “The Virginia Discovery Museum is a Charlottesville treasure and popular destination, but we have ambitious plans for the future. We owe it to Peppy and her legacy to think of how we can serve more children and families, and serve them even better than we have over the past 20 years.”