Burns has more than 28 years of experience in various leadership capacities at historical institutions, most recently as executive director at Maymont, a 100-acre property in Richmond, Va., that includes historical buildings, gardens and animal experiences, drawing 500,000 visitors annually. In his role, he worked with a 45-member board of directors, led the executive staff and played a critical role in raising more than $21 million of a multi-year $35 million capital and endowment campaign.
Prior to joining Maymont, Burns served as executive director of four Tennessee museums from 1987 to 2001, including Belle Meade Plantation, Chattanooga Regional History Museum, Rocky Mount Museum and Sam Davis Historical Site and Museum.
“At the onset of our search, we established several critical priorities that the next president and CEO must meet and we unanimously believe that Norman Burns exceeds those criteria,” said Jay Ricker, chairman of Conner Prairie’s board of directors and chairman of Ricker Oil Co. “He considers himself first and foremost a historian and educator and has observed Conner Prairie for years. We look forward to his leadership, expertise and creativity to help guide Conner Prairie’s future.”
Burns is active in the museum field nationally. He serves as treasurer and council member for the American Association of State and Local History and has served as finance committee chairman, past chairman of the audit committee and CEO forum, and co-chairman of the American Association for State and Local History’s annual meeting in 2011.
Burns earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in history from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. He and wife Sandy have three grown sons.
Click here for a hi-resolution image of Burns.
Thought Leadership Articles
Society Needs the Arts, Humanities
Museums build bridges across cultures, generations
I trust we all agree that the arts and humanities presented nobly at America’s museums make the world a better place to live and learn. Museums play a critical role in helping us rediscover and rewire our societal DNA between the two hemispheres of thought and action. READ MORE
Conner Prairie joins museums around the globe in support of the History Relevance campaign
In its continuing push to advocate for the future of museums, Conner Prairie will join more than 150 similar institutions around the globe in an online campaign to promote teaching and learning history. History Relevance is a group of history professionals that has adopted a value statement to promote the importance of teaching and learning history. READ MORE
Norman's Notes is a bi-monthly e-publication of news and views from the president's desk. Below you will find links to past issues. If you would like to subscribe to Norman’s Notes, please send your name and email address to Executive Assistant to the President Emma St. Dennis.
Feb. 27 | Conner Prairie sets President's Day attendance record
Feb. 13 | Advocating for the future of museums
Jan. 30 | Are you ready for 'Wanderland?'
Jan. 16 | Looking back at 2016 and ahead at 2017
Dec. 19 | Happy Holidays
Dec. 5 | Chief financial officer honored with Indianapolis Business Journal award
Nov. 22 | A time to be thankful for colleagues, board and donors
Nov. 7 | Conner Prairie's greatest resource is its hardworking staff
Oct. 24 | Conner Prairie leadership attends Smithsonian conference
Oct. 10 | Current, former board members remembered for their support
Sept. 26 | Record attendance at third annual Festival of Machines
Sept. 12 | Successful Labor Day weekend; Board member to be torchbearer
August 29 | 19th-century cooking videos; Praise from a parent
August 15 | Ossabaw hogs part of research program; Museum journal publishes staff members' article
July 18 | Treetop Outpost grand opening; Successful Fourth of July weekend
July 5 | Meeting Gov. Mike Pence; Supporters attend VIP Preview of Treetop Outpost
June 20 | Great Crowd at Curiosity Fair; Prairie Plates is a hit
June 6 | Value of History statement; $50,000 grant for maker's program
May 23 | U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks takes a tour of Conner Prairie
May 9 | Shear Fun overcomes soggy start with great crowd on day No. 2
April 25 | A Proud President; Opportunity Indianapolis; Prairie News
April 11 | Opening Weekend; A Visit with Mayor Hogsett
March 28 | New York Times article highlights Conner Prairie