About Ray Vandiver

TCM would like to introduce you to our new (and very first) Executive Director, Dr. Ray Vandiver!

Coming to us from Portland, Oregon after career stops in multiple Midwest cities, the initial spark that lead him to our “museum without walls” was our core values of accessibility and diversity coupled with the educational goals of the museum.

To find out a little more about Ray, read his informal interview below.

How did you make the seemingly large leap from achieving a doctorate in physics to working for and leading children's museums?

Ray Vandiver - Executive Director of Tulsa Children's MuseumMy father, a carpenter, made available to me tools and gave me encouragement to build, create, and experiment. From my earliest memories as a child in St. Louis, I recall learning by doing and building knowledge through experience – which coincide with the basic idea of children''s museums. I also discovered at a young age a fascination with math and science.

When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would answer friends and family, "either a physicist or a carpenter." As I was completing my Ph.D. in physics, I began volunteering to build hands-on exhibits for a traveling museum that toured rural Missouri--and I was hooked. I was able to combine my love for learning and education and connect it to my passion for creating and building.

You've had a hand in some pretty innovative museum programs/exhibits. Do you have a favorite?

My favorite accomplishment to date is my work to help establish the Bootheel Youth Museum – Southeast Missouri's hands-on discovery place.

My favorite exhibit that I developed is the indoor water rocket exhibit at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry--where visitors to the museum can fill a two-liter bottle with varying amounts of water and air and launch it over 50 feet in the air. It then falls back to earth automatically reset for the next launch.

Your top goal for TCM?

To be a trusted educational and cultural resource for children and families across the diverse community of Tulsa.

Three words that best describe you?

Creative, genuine and productive

Now for the BIG question, what is your favorite dessert?

I think my answer to this question changes. Favorites in the past have included strawberry cheesecake, Kentucky butter cake, and lemon meringue pie. Right now my answer is cherry pie.

Welcome to Tulsa, Ray. And welcome, to the Tulsa Children’s Museum family. We know we’re going to be a great team.

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