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10 to Contend: Molly Demeulenaere

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  • | 5:00 a.m. December 30, 2009
  • Sarasota
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Molly Demeulenaere is beaming like a little girl who just got her first Barbie doll.

Brushing a tuft of brown tresses off her forehead, she reaches for a binder that’s maxed out with photos of her next undertaking as museum director for G.WIZ — The Science Museum.

“The dinosaurs are coming,” Demeulenaere says. “I cannot wait to see my dinosaurs.”

She’s referring to Jim Gary’s 20th Century Dinosaurs exhibit that is expected to arrive at the museum in January. The dinosaurs — the largest of which is 60 feet long and 20 feet high — have always been a traveling exhibition, circulating around such museums as The Smithsonian and the Boston Children’s Museum, often drawing as many as 43,000 people in a single month.

“I’ve secured a $100,000 gift to get them here, install them and take care of them,” says Demeulenaere.

“I’m really excited that they are permanently ours. This is a huge coup for Sarasota.”

Demeulenare also helped lock in other donations through her fundraising efforts for the Sarasota County Arts Council and her own events-production company, Rambunctious Productions.

In addition, Demeulenaere held found eMerge.

“eMerge was a grassroots spin-off of the Arts Council that targeted creatives,” Demeulenaere said. “The idea was to have a group that facilitated connections between the creatives, to bring awareness to the initiatives.”

In 2005, Demeulenaere focused on bringing awareness to Sarasota about the variety of cultural institutions with the Amazing Arts Race, which sold out within five days.

“It was video-based, and we sent 10 different teams out in limos on 10 different missions,” Demeulenaere said. “All of the clues were on a DVD inside the limo. People had to find the item and take a photo, and they were tipping limo drivers hundreds of dollars to make an illegal U-turn and go faster.”

Demeulenaere’s focus for 2010 is collaborating with as many people and organizations as possible.

“I really believe that with 1.4 million nonprofits in the U.S., we have to start working together more,” Demeulenaere said. “I’m bringing synergy between art, science and natural history, because it’s important for us to embrace different things that make Sarasota a community.

She hopes to develop a partnership with Ringling College of Art and Design to get her hands on possible animation exhibits, as well as bringing student artwork to the museum.

“We think it’s our responsibility to get kids engaged in science and technology,” Demeulenaere said.
Another focus for 2010 will be renewable and sustainable energy.

“We’ve formed a committee to create permanent exhibits to be at G.WIZ and travel around the county, based and focused on renewable energy,” Demeulenaere said. “We’ll have a solar bug — a 12-foot dragonfly — with wings made of solar panels, that is completely self-sustainable. The head will move, the wings will flap and inside the bug’s eyes will be a camera. People can go on the Web site and see what the bug is looking at.”

And, now that Demeulenaere and her fiancé, Marc Morgan, were married Dec. 27, Sarasotans will finally be able to pronounce her last name.

Contact Loren Mayo at [email protected]

Age: 32
Hometown: Gulfport, Miss.; grew up in Naples
Occupation: Museum director for G.WIZ – The Science Museum
Hobbies: Horseback riding, dancing, yoga, scuba diving, art and fashion
Passion: “My heart and soul are in nonprofit.”
Interesting fact: “I love grassroots advocacy and things I can get myself entwined in and in trouble for.”


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