Peter Friess, who steered The Tech Museum through a weathering economic downturn and lured hundreds of thousands of visitors back to the museum with a series of blockbuster exhibitions and new galleries, has resigned as the institution's president after five years at the helm.
Friess will leave the post in March 2011. A search has begun for his successor.
"I had a vision to help create a museum that took advantage of one of the strongest trademarks in the world: Silicon Valley," Friess said. "This is the place to experience the future, today. It was my great pleasure to work daily with tech titans and world changers to build a museum around their innovations. Now, we have a world-class institution that helps us to educate our visitors about how technology can improve everyday life and make us better citizens."
Friess is widely credited with bringing financial stability to the not-for-profit museum.
Using an innovative mix of blockbuster traveling exhibitions while aggressively courting donors, Friess found a potent financial solution to bring dollars and visitors back to the museum. Combined, the popular exhibitions accounted for nearly 600,000 visitors to the museum and downtown San Jose, and $30 million in economic impact for the city. Additionally, prudent spending while creating a strong brand led to a balanced budget in each of Friess' five years at the museum. All this while the operating cost per visitor decreased by 19 percent.
Together with his executive team, Friess crafted a wide-reaching strategic plan, an exhaustive blueprint meant to position The Tech Museum as the leading science and technology resource center for people of all ages the world over. What quickly followed was an aggressive plan to overhaul the exhibits. A third of the exhibits were renewed while three entirely new galleries were unveiled: The Silicon Valley Innovations Gallery, which showcases the amazing range of Silicon Valley technological innovation and creativity; The Tech Challenge Gallery, which highlights the basic principles of fundamental science and the building blocks for technology, and The Tech Awards Gallery, which focuses on the incredible people who are committed to using their science and technology work to benefit humanity all over the globe.
Under Friess, the museum's key fundraiser and signature program, The Tech Awards, reached international prominence. World-renowned figures such as Nobel Prize recipient
Dr. Muhammad Yunus, former Vice President Al Gore and, just this year, Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan have been honored with the distinction as the program's James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian awardees.
The Tech Museum's Board of Directors thanks Peter for his vision and dedication to The
Tech Museum and are grateful that Peter has put in place an excellent group of staff and volunteers who will continue the spirit of innovation that makes The Tech Museum one of the foremost science and technology museums in the world.
Friess, along with his wife, will launch a Silicon Valley start-up that will use technology to promote high-end luxury goods worldwide.
Additional career highlights at The Tech Museum
Director of Public Relations
- Contributed to the worldwide profile of the museum
- Greatly expanded the museum's signature programs, The Tech Awards and The Tech Challenge
- Expanded education programs and made them accessible to all students, particularly those in Title I schools
About The Tech Museum
The Tech Museum is a hands-on technology and science museum for people of all ages and backgrounds. The museum - located in the Capital of Silicon Valley - is a non-profit learning resource established to engage people in exploring and experiencing technologies affecting their lives. Through programs such as The Tech Challenge, our annual team design competition for youth, and internationally renowned programs such as The Tech Awards, presented by Applied Materials, Inc., The Tech Museum celebrates the Spirit of Silicon Valley by encouraging the development of innovative ideas for a more promising future.