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Darcie MacMahon, Florida Museum’s director of exhibits and public programs, announces retirement

Darcie MacMahon in front of Powell Hall, the building currently housing the museum’s public programs and exhibitions. @Florida Museum/Kristen Grace

Press release from Florida Museum of Natural History

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — After a decorated 35-year career at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Darcie MacMahon has announced her retirement as director of exhibits and public programs, effective July 1.

“I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished at the museum. I’ve seen a lot of change in 35 years, including building the current public building from the ground up and creating an incredible visitor experience, all focused on inspiring people to care about life on Earth,” MacMahon said. “I am grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to be a part of that.”

First joining the Florida Museum in 1989 as an assistant exhibit curator, MacMahon combined her background in anthropology and archaeology with her eye for exhibit development and helped conceptualize and create the “Fort Mose: Colonial America’s Black Fortress of Freedom” exhibit about the first legally-sanctioned free Black town in what is now the United States. She also used her experience with the National Park Service to assist with the curation of the archaeological collections.

She transitioned full-time into the exhibits team shortly after, helping develop temporary and traveling exhibitions, and was involved in the museum’s expansion across campus to Powell Hall, the building currently housing the museum’s public programs and exhibitions, in 1998. There, she was vital to the creation of some of the museum’s most iconic permanent displays such as the “Butterfly Rainforest,” “South Florida People and Environments,” and “Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life and Land,” as well as the expansion of the traveling exhibits program with “Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived.”

MacMahon was appointed director of exhibits and public programs in 2014. In her tenure, she oversaw the continued growth of the department, including the formation of two popular new permanent exhibits, the “Discovery Zone” and “Water Shapes Florida”; the hosting of more than 18 traveling exhibits from around the country; and the creation of the “Science Up Close” series.

Under her watch during the past decade, the museum has established new educational and outreach programs, such as Tot Trot Nature WalksMuseum in the Parks, and Science Surprises, to expand the museum’s audiences past its four walls and bring science outreach into the community. These efforts have seen the museum’s annual attendance swell from 185,091 in 2014 to 242,871 in 2023.

“Her acumen and aesthetic expertise are reflected in these state-of-the-art exhibits and programming being enjoyed by visitors of all ages,” said Florida Museum director Douglas S. Jones. “A consummate museum professional, Darcie has represented the Florida Museum with distinction at both the regional and national levels.”

Beyond the museum, MacMahon served on the board of the Southeastern Museums Conference for a decade, including as its president from 2016 to 2018.  She also served on the American Alliance of Museums Council of Regional Associations and as a board member of the National Association for Museum Exhibition.

MacMahon will be succeeded by Jaret Daniels, curator at the museum’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, beginning July 1. He will serve as the interim director of exhibits and public programs, a role he previously held in 2014.

“It’s a big job, and while I cannot replace Darcie’s impact or depth of knowledge, I am eager to help address the many challenges ahead and do my best to help the institution,” Daniels said. “I am particularly excited, though, about working with such an amazingly dedicated and talented group of people in exhibits and public programs.”

  • Let’s hope that a Person of her Stature is selected to replace her, sounds like she has done an excellent service for us.

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