Conner Prairie Board of Directors announces selection of new president, CEO


    Duane Brodt
    Director of Public Relations
    Conner Prairie
    (800) 966-1836

    FISHERS, Ind. (Monday, Jan. 11, 2016/Conner Prairie) – The board of directors of Conner Prairie announced today that after a national search for candidates, a new president and CEO has been chosen.

    Norman O. Burns II of Richmond, Va., will succeed Ellen M. Rosenthal as president and CEO of Conner Prairie on Jan. 27. Rosenthal retired from the museum’s top position Jan. 4 after 12 years at the helm.

    Download a hi-resolution image of Burns.

    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.

    Spanning 850 wooded acres in central Indiana, Conner Prairie welcomes more than 360,000 visitors of all ages annually. As Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute affiliate, Conner Prairie offers various outdoor, historically themed destinations and indoor experiential learning spaces that combine history and art with science, technology, engineering and math to offer an authentic look into history that shapes society today.


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    Conner Prairie is a nationally acclaimed interactive history park. Its mission is to inspire curiosity and foster learning about Indiana by providing engaging, individualized and unique experiences. Created by Eli Lilly in 1934, Conner Prairie combines history with science, technology, engineering and math and encourages visitors to explore Indiana’s natural and cultural heritage through hands-on, immersive and interactive experiencing. Inspiring visitors of all ages to discover more about the events, discoveries and forces that shaped the American Midwest, Conner Prairie offers various historically themed, indoor and outdoor experience areas throughout its 800 acres of wooded property in Fishers, Ind. Indiana’s first Smithsonian Institute Affiliate and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, Conner Prairie is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization that relies on grants and philanthropic donations from corporations and individuals for sustainability and growth. Visit connerprairie.org or call 317.776.6000 or 800.966.1836 for admission dates, hours, ticket prices and opportunities to donate. Connect with Conner Prairie on Facebook at facebook.com/connerprairie, Flickr at flickr.com/people/connerprairie, YouTube at youtube.com/user/ConnerPrairie and Twitter at twitter.com/connerprairie.