Great Valley Museum gets director with aerospace expertise

05/25/2014 5:50 PM

05/25/2014 5:51 PM

The Great Valley Museum of Natural History has a new director. Barry Bauer will oversee the museum’s transition to its spacious new quarters on the Modesto Junior College West Campus.

Wildlife dioramas from Great Valley collections will take up much of the first floor of the Science Community Center once the museum moves from its hodgepodge of structures at College and Stoddard avenues.

Bauer will also supervise the science center’s state-of-the-art planetarium, serving MJC astronomy classes, hosting school field trips and offering community events.

The shift is expected to begin in August, though many stored exhibits have made their way to the back rooms on the west campus.

Bauer began work last week. The Yosemite Community College District board of trustees made Bauer’s appointment official at its May 14 meeting.

“We are excited to have Barry joining us as director of the Great Valley Museum,” said Brian Sanders, dean of science, mathematics and engineering and interim museum director.

“He’s worked in the aerospace industry, as a teacher and as a museum curator – all perspectives that will prove instrumental in the success of the Great Valley Museum to provide a variety of science educational opportunities for our community,” Sanders said.

Bauer comes to Modesto after serving as curator for the Aerospace Museum of California in McClellan Park (the former McClellan Air Force Base near Sacramento) for six years. He coordinated an international cultural exchange partnership and worked for Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. in Santa Clara. His Lockheed years included stints as a satellite operations specialist, quality control technician in the space systems division, and six years as the development test facility supervisor in the advanced systems division.

A former high school teacher, his classes included biology, physics and history. Bauer has designed and created various aerospace display models and exhibits for both private companies and government institutions and has more than 40 years of experience building scale models using a variety of materials and techniques, including airbrushing and scratch building.

“I look forward to meeting the challenges of opening the new museum facility and building on the solid educational programs already in place,” Bauer said. “My background in teaching, engineering and museum management enable me to immediately engage in all aspects of the job.”

Bauer holds a bachelor’s degree in history from San Jose State University and a master’s degree with an emphasis on Christian history and archeology from the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

The GVM’s mission is to educate and promote the study of science and nature throughout the Stanislaus County area. It provides educational programs for children from prekindergarten through 12th grade, both at the museum and at schools through the Traveling Teacher program.

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