Ioannis Miaoulis, longtime Museum of Science president and director, to step down in January

Ioannis Miaoulis
Ioannis MiaoulisMuseum of Science

Ioannis N. Miaoulis, the president and director of the Museum of Science, Boston, plans to leave after 16 years, the institution announced Tuesday.

Miaoulis, a former dean of the Tufts University School of Engineering and longtime advocate of science education, oversaw the largest capital campaign in the museum’s 188-year history and the launch of record-breaking exhibits inspired by the Star Wars movie franchise and the Pixar movie studio.

Museum officials said Chief Operating Officer Wayne Bouchard will serve as acting president and director when Miaoulis, 57, departs Jan. 31. No successor has been chosen; the museum said it will launch a search next year.


Miaoulis, (pronounced MEOW-lis), said in a statement that he began thinking about leaving the museum at a celebration marking his 15th anniversary as president earlier this year.

“I realized that this is a natural time to step away and focus on the next phase of my career,” said Miaoulis, a mechanical engineer by training who joined the museum in 2003. “I take pride in our many accomplishments to advance scientific and technological literacy around the world and look forward to new challenges.”

Miaoulis was paid about $607,000 last year, according to the museum’s nonprofit tax filings. He plans to remain as an adviser during the transition to a new president and then assume the honorary title of president emeritus.

Miaoulis has said he first visited the museum in 1980, on his second day in the United States, after he arrived from Greece to begin his studies at Tufts. As a father, he took his daughters to visit once a month; both are now mechanical engineers.

As president, he established the National Center for Technological Literacy to improve the teaching of engineering in schools and museums nationwide and urged the US Department of Education to administer a national technology and engineering literacy exam, officials said.


He also raised more than $470 million to support the museum, which draws about 1.4 million visitors annually. The largest donation came in 2016 when Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire philanthropist and former mayor of New York, donated $50 million to launch a science education center named for his parents, William and Charlotte Bloomberg. A Medford native, Bloomberg fell in love with the museum as a child.

Gwill York, chair of the board of trustees, credited Miaoulis with preparing the museum for its next chapter. Among other projects, the museum plans to reimagine its Blue Wing, a 100,000-square-foot exhibition hall known for its dinosaur and space attractions, to include exhibitions on contemporary themes such as big data, computational thinking, and climate change.

“For the past 16 years, [Miaoulis] has brought bold ideas and forged partnerships that have reinforced the Museum’s role as a global STEM leader, both in classrooms across the country and around the world,” Rick Burnes, former chair of the board of trustees, said in a statement. “We look forward to building on the foundation of his legacy to usher in the next phase of transformative growth.”

Andres Picon can be reached at andres.picon@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andpicon.