Louisiana Art & Science Museum executive director to retire after nearly 40 years of leadership

Louisiana Art & Science Museum executive director to retire after nearly 40 years of leadership

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The executive director and president of the Louisiana Art & Science Museum will retire at the end of the January after serving in her position for nearly 40 years.

Carol S. Gikas, the current executive director, will retire by the end of January. Serena Pandos will succeed Gikas.

“I am very pleased with the selection of Serena Pandos for the new director," Gikas said. "Her professional background and experience is a perfect match for our organization and mission. As only the third director in almost 60 years, she will become part of the stability in leadership that LASM has long enjoyed.”

The museum is spotlighting her contributions as director in a new exhibit titled “Selections from the Museum Collection: Honoring Carol S. Gikas,” which runs through January 20. During her tenure LASM, she helped establish the museum’s permanent collection.

Gikas arrived in Baton Rouge in 1980, when she took the role as the museum’s second director, succeeding Adalié Brent. Gikas helped to expand the museum’s program development, attendance, membership and community support, according to a release from the museum.

In 1998, Gikas began raising funds for an endowment and to build a planetarium and atrium. More than $17 million to build a 25,000 square foot addition the included the Irene W. Pennington Planetarium, the Bert S. Turner Family Atrium, classrooms and two exhibition spaces. The planetarium was the largest and most technologically advanced in the region when it opened in 2003.

The museum’s operating budget doubled to $2.5 million and yearly attendance quintupled from roughly 55,000 to 245,000 for the first year of expansion.

In 2018, 172,000 people visited the Art & Science Museum, and 98,000 of them were schoolchildren. LASM achieved re-accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums four consecutive times during Carol’s tenure.

Her previous museum positions were at the Arkansas Arts Center and the Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas in Austin, where she earned a Masters degree in art history and museum studies. Gikas is also a founding member of the Louisiana Association of Museums, and its former president.

Gikas plans to spend retirement pursuing new avenues for learning and visiting museums.

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