Executive Director

Denise Young joined the Bell Museum and Planetarium in September 2016. As executive director, she oversees programs, research, and facilities at a crucial time in the museum's 145-year history as it prepares to move to a new, state‐of‐the‐art facility on the St. Paul campus in 2018. Denise traces her accomplishments to an inspirational museum visit in the first grade to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History that sparked a lifelong joy for learning. She is dedicated to ensuring every Minnesotan has access to an equally inspirational museum experience through the Bell.

Denise came to the U of M from the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she established the education department and assembled a diverse team to provide science education experiences. During her tenure, science center visitation nearly doubled to 150,000 and philanthropic support has increased exponentially. She was also a clinical assistant professor in the department of Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies at the University of North Carolina, and has been a lead classroom educator and gifted education specialist at an inner city integrated arts magnet school and a science-focused elementary public school adjacent to Duke University. She holds an Ed.D. from UNC in curriculum and instruction, M.S.A. in school administration/educational leadership and B.A. in early childhood education.

Denise's success at developing award-winning science education and community outreach programs at a museum and planetarium nested in a university environment wonderfully positions her to lead the Bell Museum + Planetarium as it embarks on this exciting new phase in its life.

Learn more about the new, world class facility with improved exhibits space, a versatile 120-seat planetarium/digital theater and expanded educational areas is scheduled to open in summer 2018. This $79M facility will showcase University of Minnesota research, scholarship and education in natural and physical sciences. The museum's exhibits and public programming will foster scientific literacy for all ages and will serve as a vital interface between the University and the larger community.


Denise Young

In 2016, Denise was awarded a fellowship from the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment. IonE Fellows are senior researchers and thought-leaders that form the intellectual foundation of the institute.

Get to know Denise

Pioneer Press: Bell Museum's new director put Grossology on the overhead dome

Star Tribune: UMN's Bell Museum + Planetarium hires new executive director

MN Daily: Director Young seeks to engage visitors with Bell

UMN press release