Science center hires TV exec to lead show Museum: Peabody and Emmy winner's poetic vision "kind of captured our imagination," says search committee.

June 11, 1996|By Holly Selby | Holly Selby,SUN STAFF

Gregory P. Andorfer, a TV producer who has won Peabody and Emmy awards, will become the next executive director of the Maryland Science Center, board chairman Tom Bozzuto announced yesterday.

The 46-year-old Ohio native is vice president for national projects and executive producer at WQED television station in Pittsburgh. On Sept. 1, when Andorfer begins his new job, he will relieve Robert O. Pearce, former head of the Peabody Conservatory, who was interim director. However, he will be officially replacing former director Paul Hanle, who resigned last October.

"Very early on in the search process we defined what we were looking for: not simply someone to run the museum, but someone who could communicate science to people," Bozzuto said. "The search, therefore, was a little less narrowly focused than if we had just gone out looking for a museum director."

Science center administrators had three priorities when they began the hunt for a new director: They wanted someone with vision -- who could lead the museum into the next century. They wanted someone who could raise money. And they needed a manager, said Samuel T. Woodside, who headed the search committee.

"The feeling was that the institution has more potential than it has been achieving in the last few years and that we needed someone who could help us craft a plan for the future. We wanted someone to create a new paradigm for science centers," Woodside said.

What sold the board on Andorfer, however, was a single sentiment expressed in his job proposal.

The TV producer wrote that he wanted "to communicate the wonder in the world."

"It kind of captured our imagination," said Woodside.

As a master's degree candidate in arts management at the University of California, Andorfer wrote a proposal that Carl Sagan used when developing his "Cosmos" show.

Andorfer also worked as a producer for the 13-hour series that ran from 1978 to 1980.

While at WQED, Andorfer produced a number of educational projects including "Everyday Science," a series of two-minute vignettes aired on Public Radio International.

Some topics that series explored were "Why do curve balls curve?" "Where do bugs go in the winter?" and "Why does popcorn pop?"

Another of his shows, "M: The Invisible Universe," which is about mathematical ideas and concepts, will begin airing on PBS in fall 1997.

Though an art history and English literature at Kenyon College, Andorfer got hooked on science films as an undergraduate. He watched Kenneth Clarke's "Civilization" and Jacob Bronowski's "Ascent of Man" -- and, he said, that was that. "I saw them on 16-millimeter film in a school auditorium and sat there and thought, 'This is incredible. This is what I want to do.' "

To Andorfer, the step from a producer of science films and TV shows to science museum director is not large. Both jobs require that one "learns enough about science to be able to HTC communicate it effectively so that people can see science in a way they wouldn't normally," he said.

In his new role as science museum director, he will consider having the museum take a more active role in producing its own programs and films, exploring 3-dimensional IMAX movies (which are shown on a five-story screen) and investigating computer simulations of experiences.

"I, and I think the board, want to see this museum become a world-class pioneering institution. We want to transform it a bit so that it has a freshness to it," he said. "But I don't think there is any magic style. In one program it might be high-tech and in others it might be elegantly simple stuff."

Pub Date: 6/11/96

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