Bakken Museum executive director to retire

David Rhees steps down in September after 23 years at museum's helm

Bakken Museum Executive Director David Rhees will retire in September, the museum’s board of directors announced June 29.

During his 23 years at the Bakken, Rhees led the late-’90s expansion and renovation of the museum’s home, a Tudor mansion near Lake Calhoun, and co-edited “Dreaming on with Earl Bakken,” a book of stories about the museum’s founder.

The board will conduct a national search for a new executive director, aided by a recruiting firm.

In a statement released by the museum, Rhees said he is grateful to have had the opportunity to “translate [Bakken’s] vision of inspiring a passion for science, and its potential for social good, into a reality for many thousands of people.”

“It has been a tremendous privilege and joy to lead an institution founded by Earl Bakken, the ‘father’ of the Minnesota medical device industry,” Rhees said.

Soon to celebrate its 40th anniversary, the Bakken explores the history of electricity and its use for medical purposes. The museum grew significantly during Rhees’ tenure at the museum, seeing an increase in its annual budget to $2.4 million from $500,000 and an uptick in attendance to about 75,000 per year from 5,000.

Before joining the Bakken, Rhees spent seven years as the assistant librarian for research programs at the American Philosophical Society and also took part in a fellowship at the Smithsonian.

Rhees plans to write a book about Medical Alley, a network of medical device firms in Minnesota, during his retirement. He said he looks forward to playing more Irish traditional music with his wife and taking his grandson “to enjoy future programs and exhibits at the Bakken.”