The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County held its bi-annual Dinosaur Ball on Saturday evening at which trustees, museum staff and other guests gave Director Jane Pisano a monster of an honor.
The museum announced it would be renaming its dinosaur hall for Pisano, who last year announced that she would soon be retiring. The hall, one of the most popular exhibits at the museum, will now be called the Jane G. Pisano Dinosaur Hall.
Pisano announced her retirement in September, after 14 years with the museum. The news prompted museum trustees to name her this year’s Dino Ball honoree, which resulted in $1.6 million from table sales and donations -- the second highest event revenue raised in the institution’s history, the museum said.
A fundraising campaign led by board President Sarah Meeker Jensen and board chair Paul Haaga raised an additional $7 million in gifts for the naming of the new hall.
“I’m really touched, I have to say,” Pisano said in an interview. “The transformation here at the museum has been the work of so many people and I’m just really thrilled that the museum family is going to name the dinosaur hall for me.”
The hall holds special significance for Pisano, she said, in that “it’s the way into the museum, for almost everyone. When you think about the Natural History Museum, you think about dinosaurs. And once they’re here, then they go around and explore. But it’s those dinosaurs that are the door opener.”
During her time at the Natural History Museum, Pisano led a decade-plus, $135-million reinvention of the museum that included the $13-million Otis Booth Pavilion, a six-story-high, multimedia-infused glass cube that’s now the museum’s main entrance, and 3-1/2 acres of new nature gardens.
"In her 14 years as president and director, Jane has blended elegance, tenacity and financial prudence to breathe new life into NHM,” Meeker Jensen said in a statement. “We trustees wanted to show our support in a very tangible way -- by raising $1.6 million as this year’s Dino Ball honoree and with another $7 million to name Jane's favorite hall, the dinosaur hall, in her honor.”
Pisano wouldn’t say when her last day at the museum would be. “I told the board I’d stay until my successor was appointed and would begin,” she said. “And I have no idea when that will be.”