Ruth Shelly


Executive Director, Portland Children’s Museum has spent a lifetime in museums, starting as a volunteer in eighth grade. She trained in exhibit design at the Milwaukee Public Museum , and later headed up exhibits departments at the Albuquerque Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, and Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. At the Aquarium, Ruth moved into administration over a ten-year tenure, and then joined the San Diego Museum of Natural History as Deputy Director of Public Programs. In 2003, her family relocated to Wisconsin when Ruth served as Executive Director of Madison Children’s Museum for ten years. Here she oversaw the museum’s capital campaign and move to an expanded location—the first LEED-certified museum in Wisconsin and winner of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. In 2013 her family moved to Oregon, where Ruth became executive director of Portland Children’s Museum. This organization includes not only a museum, but also a pre-K through grade 5 school and a research center that are all united by the learning approach of Playful Inquiry, which stresses nurturing empathy as a foundational principle and practice. 

amir baradaran