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Biography

Elaine Heumann Gurian is a consultant/advisor to a number of museums and visitor centers that are beginning, building or reinventing themselves. Her current clients include the Museum of the City of London, UK, The Exploratorium, San Francisco, The Royal BC Museum, Victoria, Canada and the Detroit Zoo, Detroit MI. In the past she has worked as a senior consultant to the following projects (A partial listing); The Museum of the Resistance, Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, The Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia, The National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, The National Discovery Museum, Thailand, National Museum of Australia, the Jewish Museum Berlin, CIRMA, the national archive of Guatemala, Te Papa; the Museum of New Zealand, the Museum of World Cultures, Gothenburg Sweden, and the Dubai Municipality Children’s Museum.

Ms. Gurian is a teacher, trainer and lecturer at many academic and in-service programs of museum studies worldwide. In 2014 she was renamed visiting scholar to the Museum Program of the University of Michigan 2006-2009), in 2012 She was named as an Osher Fellow at the Exploratorium, San Francisco, in 2011 a Salzburg Scholar, in 2007 a Fulbright Scholar for training museum professionals at Fundacion TyPA, Buenos Aires, Argentina. In the same year she was part of the week long training faculty for the Fund for Arts and Culture in Bucharest, Romania. Ms. Gurian regularly taught a module at Museion, the museum graduate program of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden from 2000-2010 and regularly lectures at many museum studies programs in the US, Argentina, UK and Italy. Ms. Gurian is a frequent keynote speaker and was one of five keynote speakers at the ICOM triennial conference in Vienna, Austria in 2007.

Ms. Gurian is widely published. In 2006, Routledge published her volume, Civilizing the Museum: the Collected Writings of Elaine Heumann Gurian. She is editor for the volume. Institutional Trauma: The Effect of Major Change on Museum Staff and currently on the editorial board of the journal, Curator.

In 2006 Elaine Heumann Gurian was inducted as one of the 100 Centennial Honor Roll members by the American Association of Museums, who also honored her with the Distinguished Service to Museums Awards in 2004, the most prestigious recognition in the American museum profession. In 1993, Elaine Heumann Gurian was chosen as “Outstanding Learning Disabled Achiever Award” from the Lab School of Washington and “The Distinguished Service Alumni Award for the Class of 1958” from Brandeis University.  Gurian was awarded the “Museum Educator’s Award for Excellence” in 1985.

Gurian is a past president of the Museum Group (an association of independent museum consultants) and has served on the Advisory Arts Council to the President of Brandeis University. In the past, Gurian has been elected Treasurer, Vice President, and Councilor-At-Large for the American Association of Museums (AAM), board member of the American chapter of the International Council on Museums (AAM/ICOM), a regional representative of the Museum Education Committee (AAM/EdCom) and Vice President of the International Museum Education Committee (ICOM/CECA). She was appointed a member of the AAM task force on education which created Excellence and Equity: Education and the Public Dimension of Museums.  

Ms. Gurian has served as the Acting Director of the Cranbrook Institute of Science during construction, redesign and installation of the museum between the death of the former director and the appointment for the new one from 1997-1999. From 1991 to 1994, she was the Deputy Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which opened to the public in April 1993.  During 1990 and 1991, Ms. Gurian served as Deputy Director for Public Program Planning for the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.  From 1987 to 1990, Gurian was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Museums at the Smithsonian, providing oversight for all 14 Smithsonian museums with a combined annual Federal appropriation of approximately $120 million.  For sixteen years (1972 - 1987), Elaine Heumann Gurian was the Director of the Exhibit Center, the public facility of the Boston Children’s Museum. From 1969 to 1972, Elaine Heumann Gurian was the Director of Education at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, MA.  In addition she helped create RECYCLE, a program and shop that recirculated manufactured leftovers to schools and individuals which continued from 1970 until 2000.

In her early career she served as the art teacher for kindergarten through 6th grade at the Solomon Schechter School in Newton, Massachusetts.  Elaine Heumann Gurian holds a B.A. in art history from Brandeis University and a M.Ed. in elementary education and art education from State College at Boston.