Pike indulges ‘museum bug’ as director of Pink Palace

The Memphis Daily News/The Memphis News

Dec. 20, 2013

Steve Pike, director of museums for the Pink Palace Family of Museums, calls himself a generalist, happy to have his hands in all things theoretical and material. It’s a label that envelopes his interests, his career choices, and going back to his liberal arts education at Marian University in Indianapolis.

Born and raised in Evansville, Ind., he majored in literature with a master’s degree in the field from Temple University in Philadelphia. His first job was teaching at the university before moving into the world of academic publishing, working in marketing and public relations for Temple University Press followed by Princeton University Press.

His shift into the realm of museums began with a job in Washington in the marketing department of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a large, multidisciplinary science association publishing books and magazines.

He got to know people in the building across the street – the National Trust for Historic Preservation – and when they looked to hire their first vice president for development and communications, Pike put his hat in the ring and got the job.

“That’s how I got into museums. It was a wonderful opportunity,” he said. “At that time, the trust had 18 historic house museums around the country.”

From the national trust, he went to work for the membership program of the Smithsonian Institution.

“I guess you could say I got the ‘museum bug’ at the national trust, and then it really became a fatal affliction when I went to the Smithsonian,” he said.

It was while in Washington that he decided he wanted to try running a museum and became director at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. It’s a research museum and quite hidden in the small town of Martinsville, making it difficult to raise money . . . (read more)