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Ecsite board

Executive committee

Bruno Maquart, © Sandrine Expilly
Bruno Maquart
Chairman and CEO
Since July 2015, I have been the chairman and CEO of Universcience, the first French public institution devoted to communicating scientific and technical culture. It comprises two venues in Paris, Palais de la découverte (founded in 1937) and the Cité des sciences et de l'industrie (founded in 1986). For the last twenty-five years of my career, I've been working in two different fields, both in the public sector: culture and social affairs. In 2001, I took over as managing director of Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou in Paris. Then, I was appointed head of Agence France-Museums, owned by French major cultural institutions, which I ran from 2007 to 2010. This company is in charge of the Louvre Abu Dhabi project, in the United Arab Emirates. My last position with the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health was chief of Minister Marisol Touraine's staff. I was appointed by the French government Officer of the Ordre des Arts et Lettres and Knight of the Order of the Legion of Honour. I started a first Trustee’s mandate on the Ecsite Board in June 2017. In June 2019 I was re-elected for a second two-year term and chosen by the Board to be the Acting Past President of Ecsite. In 2020 I was elected Vice-President and in May 2021 I was elected as the new President of Ecsite.
Amito Haarhuis
I have spent my whole career working on quality science education, from being a STEM teacher trainer and author of a study book for student teachers, a presenter of science experiments in a television show, to creating memorable experiential learning experiences in a science museum. As the Deputy Director of NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam, I was concerned with transforming the museum in a 21st century context, introducing a new STEM curriculum in the Netherlands and really involving citizens in scientific and technological developments. Since 1 April 2018, I am the Director of Rijksmuseum Boerhaave in Leiden, the Dutch National Museum of the History of Science and Medicine. It tells the stories of the major discoveries in the history of science in the Netherlands, the scientists behind them, and the impact of their discoveries on our lives today. I was elected on the Ecsite Board in June 2019 for a two-year Trustee’s mandate.
Vice Presidency
Maria João Fonseca
Head of Communication / Director of the Hall of Biodiversity - Ciência Viva Center
With a background in animal biology and biology teaching and a PhD in science education and communication, I am currently Interim Executive Coordinator and Head of Communication at the Natural History and Science Museum of the University of Porto and Director of the Ciência Viva Center Hall of Biodiversity. I am in charge of general administration and of coordinating and promoting science communication and outreach activities. I have been involved in the design and evaluation of formal and informal educational activities, teacher training, and outreach initiatives for all sorts of audiences. Also, I am currently part of the team responsible for the reconstruction of the Natural History and Science Museum of the University of Porto.
Herbert Muender
Past Presidency representative
Herbert Muender
General Manager
I am the Managing Director of Universum® Bremen. Before that, I was the Managing Director of Wissenschaft im Dialog (2002-2011) and developed this initiative towards a center of competence for science communication in Germany. I was responsible for annual projects like MS Wissenschaft (exhibition ship) and Wissenschaftssommer (German national science week) and coordinated research activities on participation formats like student parliaments. I organised the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) 2006 and initiated the Forum Wissenschaftskommunikation (German conference on science communication). I am a Board member of MINTaktiv, the German network of science centers and technical museums, and was the President of Eusea in 2010-2011. I have been sitting on the Ecsite Board since 2014. I served as Vice-President in 2016-2017, was elected President in June 2017 and re-elected for a second two-year presidential mandate in June 2019.
Executive Director
Catherine Franche
Executive Director
I am the Executive Director of Ecsite. Under my leadership, the Ecsite Conference has grown to become the largest science engagement event in Europe and Ecsite has firmly established itself as a trend setting platform and as a key stakeholder on the European stage. Before I joined Ecsite in 2006, I was working for the Office de Coopération et d’Information Muséographiques (OCIM, France) as a Training coordinator. From 1992 to 1994, I was Professional development coordinator and then Executive director of the Société des Musées Québécois. I have also worked in architecture and art museums in Canada and managed cultural events such as jazz festivals. I hold an MBA in cultural management from HEC Montréal (Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales).


Leonardo Alfonsi
Leonardo Alfonsi
Director at Psiquadro
I’m the Director of Psiquadro, the social enterprise I founded with some colleagues in 2002 to develop and implement science events, science exhibitions and science communication projects all over Italy. I am active in the international science communication field, at the crossroads of the events and the science centre and museums communities. I love combining creativity and professionalism to turn new ideas into real experiences, such as the unique science performances festival 'The Einstein Island', and to work jointly with national and international cultural institutions: from universities and research centres to science centres and museums, from cities to diverse cultural actors. I served as President of the European Science Engagement Association (Eusea) and in 2015 I received the “Romeo Bassoli” prize for outreach activities awarded by the Italian Physical Society. I’m currently the coordinator of SHARPER, the European Researchers’ Night in 13 Italian cities, and of FameLab Italy, the global public speaking competition for young researchers. I was elected on the Ecsite Board in June 2019.
Baerbel Auffermann
Baerbel Auffermann
I am the director of Neanderthal Museum in Germany. We are telling the story of human evolution close to the famous site where the first Neanderthal remains were discovered. Together with my team I aim at generating an interest in the subject of human evolution. The thematic orientation of our museum is unique: in short we are a museum about people for people. I am archaeologist and worked as exhibition manager at Neanderthal Museum since the opening in 1996. I played a decisive role in the conception and delivery of visitor-oriented permanent and temporary exhibitions. In the upcoming years I plan to intensify the exchange of our researchers with the exhibition and education staff. I aim at driving forward the inclusive opening of the museum. I was elected on the Ecsite Board in June 2019 for a two-year Trustee’s mandate.
Francis Duranthon
Museum Director
Francis Duranthon is the Director of the Museum of Toulouse. He has a PHD in Paleontology and also graduated with an HDR (habilitation a diriger les recherches) in Museology. He joined the museum as a curator for the geological collection in 1982. During the renovation of the Museum, he was first in charge of the museological programme for the permanent exhibition. He then worked on the creation of a public/visitor's department and a joint research laboratory with Toulouse University. Engaged in public education, he created many programmes for French television with 146 magazines about paleontology, prehistory, earth sciences and archaeology and 80 short programmes on museum collections. As a paleontologist, he is part of two research programs about the origin of humankind in the south of Africa. He is a member of the National Council for Nature for the French Ministry of Ecology, and one of the experts for the French UICN (l'Union Internationale pour la Conservation de la Nature en France).
Thanassis Kontonikolaou
Thanassis Kontonikolaou
General Manager
I have been the Director General as well as Technical Director of NOESIS – The Thessaloniki Science Center and Technology Museum since 2012. Besides the administration and custody on the construction of new infrastructures of NOESIS, I’m responsible for new projects, I oversee competitions, the evaluation of tenders, the composition and checking of projects, services and supplies contracts. In 2002-2008 I worked for EFTA (the European Investment Bank), in charge of “Competitiveness” and “Culture”: as the Head of surveillance I oversaw project funding and was in charge of finding new sources of funding. I have a degree from the School of Electrical Engineers of the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki and I’m also member of the Experts Committee of the Technical Chamber. I was elected to sit on the Ecsite Board in June 2018.
Mikko Myllykoski
I am the CEO of Heureka, the Finnish science centre. My background is in history and classical philology, which both keep inspiring me through my life and times in science engagement. I think that in our profession we are, in fact, dramaturgists and storytellers. Besides science communication, I have a broad interest in nature, cultures and languages – and especially in building bridges between them. – To live and to mix.
photo of Hilde De Laet
Hilde De Laet
Manager Hidrodoe
Hilde has been working at Hidrodoe since the start-up. From the choice of an architect for the building, over the construction of the exhibition to visitor services, operations, marketing and to manager Hidrodoe. Her passion lies with hospitality/hostmanship. Making Hidrodoe a place where everyone is genuinely welcome is her assignment. She likes to work on sustainability, retail, catering and day-to-day challenges that come with running a science center. She likes to inspire other people and help them to grow, so that their organization improves and becomes the nicest place to work and to visit. Hidrodoe is an initiative of water company Pidpa in Belgium, it is an educational do- and experience center about water.
Alexandra Burch
Director of Public Programmes
United Kingdom
I have a background in marine biology and am passionate about nature, science and learning. I am Director of Public Programmes at the Natural History Museum in London and lead the development of our public offer of exhibitions, galleries and learning at our sites in London and Tring, our national programme and our global programme - Wildlife Photographer of the Year. I joined the Museum in 2015 and prior to that was at the Science Museum Group for 14 years working in audience research, learning and on exhibitions and galleries.
Image of Tania Johnston, Head of ESO Supernova
Tania Johnston
Head of ESO Supernova
Garching bei München
I have been working in the field of science communication since 2002, and in particular in science centres with a focus on astronomy and space science, since 2006. During my 9 years working as Public Engagement Programme Manager for the Science & Technology Facilities Council, I developed curriculum related educational material and worked closely with the Physics teaching community in Scotland, to support the use of astronomy and space science as a context for teaching science at all levels. Since 2015, I have been working for the European Southern Observatory – the world’s most productive ground-based astronomy organisation – managing the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre. Newly opened in 2018, the ESO Supernova brings together 2200 m2 of interactive exhibitions and a 14m diameter planetarium, in which the science and technology behind modern astronomy is introduced.
Solveig Arnesen
I have been CEO at Vitenparken since January 2021 and have ten years of experience from various positions at the science center Vitenparken Campus Ås in Norway. I have a cross-sectorial background with experience from industries such as communication and tourism before settling for the last ten years in the science center sphere. My educational background is broad and includes management, leadership, innovation, green economics, and digital communication with an Executive MBA degree. However, I am an entrepreneurial spirit always looking for new opportunities to learn and grow. I serve on the board of several companies, specifically “green” startup companies with sustainability at the heart of their business model. I am based in Norway, but I have a European perspective. Vitenparken has always emphasized international collaboration. I am chair of the board of a startup with global ambitions currently focused on Germany. I have family and professional engagements in Catalonia, Spain.
Lisa Månsson
Director General, PhD
Lisa Månsson is the Director General of the Swedish Museum of Natural History and holds a PhD in Infection biology from Karolinska Insitutet. The Swedish Museum of Natural History has 11 million specimens in the collections and is a world class research institution. The museum is one of Sweden’s largest museum attraction with approximately 700 000 visitors a year and holds Northern Europe’s biggest dome-theatre. Lisa was appointed Director General by the Swedish government in November 2021, but started at the museum the year before as Director of Museum Operations. Lisa has been a leader within museum and science center organizations for more than a decade. During the years 2010-2015 Lisa worked in various leading positions at the science center Tom Tis Experiment and after that she was the Museum Director of the Vasa museum for five years. Vasa is a maritime museum located in Stockholm and is the most visited museum in Scandinavia (1,5 million visitors yearly). In a world with threatened biodiversity, increasing global warming and climate change as well as challenging spread of science neglect, Lisa decided to move back towards nature science. Lisa is a board member of the non-profit membership organization Vetenskap & Allmänhet (Public & Science), that works to promote dialogue and openness between researchers and the public. She is also on the board for the national organization for museums in Sweden.
Photo of Miriam Atienza, Content Manager of City of Arts and Sciences
Miriam Atienza
Content manager
Currently Content Manager at City of Arts and Sciences at Valencia (Spain) since 2012. Part of the team since 2001 in different positions, among which the General Deputy Director stands out in 2009 and therefore in 2012 as Content Manager. Previously, I have developed my professional experience in the field of audiovisual communication and tourism. Graduated in Geography and History from the University of Valencia and Master in Marketing and Communication from the Miguel Hernández University of Alicante. Representing City of Arts and Sciences at ECSITE (European Network of Science and Technology Museums) as Fullmember, ICOM (International Council of Museums) and Euromax. Currently a member of the board of directors of the Spanish Association of Science and Technical Museums of Spain
Aude Bosquet Barth
Secrétaire Générale de la Fondation Cité des Télécoms - Directrice de la Cité des Télécoms
Currently managing the Cité des Telecoms, a corporate foundation of the Orange Group. Prior to joining the fascinating world of museums and scientific culture, I was VP Continuous improvement, Customer Culture & Responsible Customer Experience for Orange worldwide. I have been an executive in the Orange group for three decades, developing extensive management skills and operational experiences in Btc & BtB as a Business Unit Director, as well as running communications, PR, and transformation plans. I am proud to have a strong European focus, having lived and worked 5 years in Brussels as Deputy Head of the Orange Representative Office to the European Institutions.