Over 16 years Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) transformed from being an institution “at risk” to “robust.” When Doug McDonald began as CEO in 1999, the museum experienced a $2.3 million operating deficit which consumed 26% of the museum’s endowment. When he retired in 2015, the museum was debt free and had over $50 million in endowment. During his tenure, Cincinnati Museum Center merged with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in 2012, and both were accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Cincinnati Museum Center was awarded the 2009 National Medal of Museum Service by the Institute of Museum & Library Services and was selected by Neil Armstrong, in 2006, as the place to donate and display his moon rock.
Under McDonald’s entrepreneurial leadership, Cincinnati Museum Center developed a nationally recognized program to pursue and host world-class exhibitions: Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition; St. Peter and the Vatican; Real Pirates: The Untold Story of The Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship; BODIES…The Exhibition; Freedom’s Sisters; Dinosaurs Alive; America I Am: The African American Imprint; Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt; A Day in Pompeii; Dead Sea Scrolls; Dinosaurs Unearthed; and Diana, A Celebration.
Through the combined partnership, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center presented the exhibit Women Hold Up Half the Sky, based on Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn’s award-winning book, and launched the largest nationally touring exhibit of story quilts, And Still We Rise, in partnership with the Women of Color Quilters Network. As a result, Cincinnati Museum Center and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center have welcomed tens of millions of visitors and generated significant economic impact for the region.