Niantic Children’s Museum Welcomes Russell Rothan as New Executive Director

The Niantic Children’s Museum is happy to welcome Russell Rothan as the Museum’s new executive director!

A former Disney Imagineer, Mr. Russ brings to the role decades of experience as an industrial designer and entrepreneur. His previous employers and clients have included some of the biggest names in the museum, theme park and mass retail world.

“Russ will be a wonderful asset for the Museum,” said Museum Board President John Burkhardt. “We firmly believe that his experience and passion will take the Museum to the next level.”

“I’m grateful to have been selected for this position, and I feel even more fortunate to have been selected to lead the same little museum that I used to visit with my sons,” said Mr. Russ.

An Ohio-native, Mr. Russ graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design with a BFA in industrial design. The combination of his degree, creativity, engineering expertise and determination took him around the nation working with museums and companies such as the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Walt Disney World and Walt Disney Imagineering.

“I went to college only really wanting one thing … to turn thoughts into things,” said Mr. Russ.

Mr. Russ’s background in strategic and interpretive planning, creative direction, prototyping, exhibits, interaction design, fabrication, production, and project management will be crucial to the Museum’s future. His previous work with the Niantic Children’s Museum includes the design, fabrication and installation of the Global Market & Café and Creation Station exhibits and the animal enclosure renovation.

He is also a co-creator of the world-recognized and popular Tireflys. His companies have been awarded numerous patents and trademarks and has had products placed in over 65,000 retail locations globally.

“Every time I start a project no matter what it may be… There is a sense of joy and wonder at what may come, I look forward to this service and I marvel at what can be collaboratively accomplish,” said Mr. Russ.

Since 2015, the Museum has been led by Holly Cheeseman. She stepped away from the job in 2024 to focus on her family and job as a State Representative, but not before helping find her replacement in Mr. Russ.

“I loved working with Russ when he designed some new exhibits for the Museum,” said Miss Holly. “His talent, creativity, and work ethic were phenomenal. I am thrilled to be entrusting the Museum to Russ, and I am looking forward to seeing the museum grow and thrive under his stewardship.”

Now a Connecticut resident for more than a decade, Mr. Russ enjoys his time on the coast kayaking, fishing and spending time with his two sons.

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