New executive director has plans for museum; Ilana Xinos wants to make National Buffalo Museum more interactive for children, attract locals
The National Buffalo Museum's new executive director wants to see more local people at the museum and believes the way to achieve that goal is to capture the imagination of children.
The National Buffalo Museum’s new executive director wants to see more local people at the museum and believes the way to achieve that goal is to capture the imagination of children.
Ilana Xinos, a Jamestown resident, was hired by the National Buffalo Museum Board of Directors just over a month ago. Xinos said she had been working remotely from her home as the assistant director of academic programs for Southwestern College Professional Studies, which is based out of Wichita, Kan.
“I saw the ad in the paper about the executive director position,” she said. “I actually thought about it for quite a while. I was working remotely for about three years and I knew I wanted to work with people again.”
Xinos is married to Sean Flory, who teaches English at the University of Jamestown. They have a 3-year-old daughter, Lilah. Xinos said she has a master’s degree in English from Louisiana State University and has taught English and the humanities in colleges.
“I was really drawn to the museum with my humanities background,” she said. “One thing that attracted me to the job was being in charge of educational programming.”
Wes Newton, chair of the National Buffalo Museum Board of Directors’ hiring committee, said Xinos was the best choice of the 20 or so people who applied for the job. She was one of eight candidates interviewed for the position.
“We felt her educational background, her work experience and her enthusiasm for the museum made her the best choice,” he said.
Xinos said would like to expand the museum’s children space and make it more interactive.
“I’d like to make our children’s room more like a children’s museum space with hands-on exhibits where children can learn more about bison,” she said.
Xinos said she would like to partner with other local organizations, like the Arts Center, to bring more local people into the museum. She said the museum gets lots of visitor traffic, people from other areas, but not too many locals come to visit. She said attracting local people, especially children, to the museum is important to the museum’s survival.
“If kids have good memories of here,” Xinos said, “they are more likely to bring their children back and they’re more likely to keep this place open and support it and volunteer.”
Xinos said she would also like to see more local people volunteering at the museum. She said the museum’s board has great, very active members, but they could always use more help.
Xinos and her staff are working with Jamestown Tourism on the 19th birthday celebration of White Cloud, the albino buffalo, on July 10. She said there will be bison-shaped sugar cookies dipped in powdered sugar and the celebration will have a carnival theme.
“James River Family Fitness is graciously letting us use its carnival games, “Xinos said.”We’re also asking local businesses to have booths up with their own games or displays as part of the celebration.”
Xinos said they were almost sold out for the 22nd Annual North Dakota Buffalo Foundation Fundraiser Auction starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Jamestown Civic Center. Tickets are $50 and a table of eight costs $320. Xinos said there were no more VIP tables available. A prime rib bison buffet dinner will be served and there will be silent and live auctions and a raffle.
For information on these events or to learn more about volunteering, visit www.nationalbuffalomuseum.com or call 252-8648.
Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at colson@ jamestownsun.com