Ellen M. Rosenthal

Curriculum Vitae

Ellen M. Rosenthal


President and CEO – 2006 – present
Conner Prairie, Fishers, Indiana
Leads an interactive history park with annual budget of over $9 million.
Responsible for innovative master plan.
Executive Director – 2003 – 2005
Served as interim during two and one half year period of governance negotiations.
Vice President, Internal Affairs and Planning – 1999 – 2003
Helped create visitor-focused programming based on extensive research.

Chief Curator – 1994-1999
Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Supervised over 30 exhibitions. Directed staff, market research study. Wrote grants, participated in fundraising, managed budgets.
Curator, Children’s Discovery Room – 1993 – 1994
Developed hands-on exhibit for History Center.
Planning Coordinator, History Center – 1988-1992
Managed formative market study, economic impact analysis, planning grant. Developed space use program, coordinated selection of architects.

Curator, Clayton – 1985-1988
Frick Art and Historical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Planned for new museum complex. Developed furnishing strategy. Managed staff, volunteers, interns, collections and budget.

Curatorial Director – 1981-1983
American History Workshop, Boston, Massachusetts
Directed or collaborated on many museum projects, including Time Machine, a multi-media exhibition for the National Museum ofAmerican History, Ventures, a historical theater production at South Street Seaport Museum. Wrote first successful grant application for the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Curator – 1979 - 1981
James J. Hill House, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota
Developed innovative plan for interpretation of new historic home. Produced furnishings plan. Collaborated on space-use plan.


President – 1985 - 1986
Greater Pittsburgh Museum Council, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Led new museum association. Raised funds for collaborative brochure.

Museum Consultant – 1983 - 1999
Clients included: Greene County Historical Society, Historic Hudson Valley, Pleasant Company American Girl Dolls


BA, Art History, magna cum laude: Barnard College, Columbia University, 1975
MA, Early American Culture: H.F. duPont Winterthur Program, University of Delaware, 1978
MPM, Management, highest distinction: Carnegie-Mellon University, 1994


Certificate of Achievement, “Principles & Techniques of Fundraising,” The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, May 9-13, 2005.
“Collecting and Analyzing Data in Audience Research,” “Effective Questionnaire Design,” seminars, Visitor Studies Association, 2000.
“Learning in Museums,” graduate seminar, Museum Learning Collaborative, Learning Research and Development Center, University of Pittsburgh, 1998


Seminar for Historical Administration, 2004 - 2008
Numerous lectures, IUPUI, 1999-2008
“Exhibit Development,” California University, 1998
“American Decorative Arts, “ Duquesne University, 1988
“American Decorative Arts," University of Pittsburgh, 1985
“American Decorative Arts,” Community College of Allegheny County, 1984


Indianapolis Business Journal Who's Who in Hospitality, 2011
Institute of Museum and Library Services National Medal (on behalf of Conner Prairie), 2010
Distinguished Hoosier, Office of the Governor, State of Indiana, 2006
Merit Scholarship, Carnegie-Mellon University, 1984
Full fellowship, H.F. duPont Winterthur Program, University of Delaware, 1976


"Serving Children When Parents Come Along" in New Thinking: Rules for the (R)evolution of Museums", MuseumsEtc, 2010
“What the Heck is Experience Design? A Case Study,” Exhibitionist, vol. 24, No.2, Fall 2005.
“Conversations across Time: Family Learning at a Living History Museum,” in Learning Conversations: Explanation and Identity in Museums, Eds. G. Leinhardt, K. Crowley and K. Knutson, Laurence Erlbaum Associates, 2002 (with Jane Hetrick).
“Preface,” Shattering Notions: The Story of Glass in Western Pennsylvania, May 1988 (A. Madarasz, author).
“The Johnstown Flood Exhibition,” Journal of American History, Spring, 1993.
“The Colonial Revival: New Words for an Old Book,” Creating a Dignified Past: Museums and the Colonial Revival, Albany, 1991 (Geoffrey L. Rossano, editor).
“Clayton: Portrait of a House,” At Home in Pittsburgh: Art and Furnishing from Clayton, Pittsburgh, 1988. “Marcon at Clayton,” Registrar, fall, 1987 (with Joanne Moore).
“Introducing the Hill House,” Minnesota History, winter, 1981 (with E. Doermann).
Choosing a Career,” From Stripes to Whites: A History of the Swedish Hospital School of Nursing, 1899-1973, Minneapolis, 1980.


National Endowment for the Humanities, 2008
Institute for Museum and Library Services, 2007
Challenge Grant Program, National Endowment for the Humanities, 2005
Museums for American Grant Program, Institute for Museum and Library Services, 2005
Operating Support, Institute for Museum and Library Services, 1998, 2002, 2003


Panelist, "History Museums and Family Audiences - Why So Challenging?" Reach Advisors, Seminar on the Web, 2007.
“Balancing Financial and Mission Concerns,” American Association of Museums Annual Meeting, May 2007.
“No Margin, No Mission: The Business of Museums,” Krannert Business School, Purdue University, 2006.
“Incorporating Visitor Studies in Decision Making,” American Association of Museums, May 2006.
“Why Should I Care about Experience Design,” American Association of Museums Annual Meeting, May 2005.
“Letting the Visitor Drive: A new Way to Steer Museum Learning,” Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, April 2005.
“Impact of the Conner Prairie Five Year Plan,” Outdoor History Museum Forum, November 2003.
“Internal Revolutions: A Study of Family Learning Leads to Change at Conner Prairie,” Visitor Studies Association Annual Meeting, 2003.
“How to Make Audience Research Matter,” panel chair and presenter, America Association of Museums Annual Meeting, 1998.
“Hands-on Industry: Making Industrial History Accessible to Children,” Pennsylvania Historical Association Annual Meeting, 1997.
“The Role of Demographic Projections in Planning the Pittsburgh Regional History Center,” Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, 1990.
“Victorian Interiors: Insights into Social History,” Duquesne University History Forum, 1988.
“Mr. Frick and his Homes: An Examination of Changing Taste,” University of Pittsburgh, 1987.
“Developing Interpretive Strategies for Clayton,” Greater Pittsburgh Museum Council Symposium, 1987.
“Humanizing the Historic House Experience,” Massachusetts Historical Association, 1981.
“Understanding Mid-Western Taste,” Mid-Western Studies Association, 1980.