Cade Museum’s Stephanie Bailes Named a Top 50 International Museum Influencer


Blooloop, a leading global resource for visitor attractions sector professionals, has named Stephanie Bailes, President and Executive Director of the Cade Museum for Creativity & Invention, as among the top museum influencers in 2021.

“It is an incredible honor, as well as humbling, to be included on this list of international influencers in the museum field,” says Bailes. “I’ve dedicated the last four years of my life working to bring the Cade Museum to reality and it does feel satisfying to have that commitment recognized.”

The Blooloop 50 celebrates the work of 50 key individuals internationally in the fields of theme parks and museums who have impacted the visitor attraction sector with innovation, creativity, passion and drive. The influencers are chosen by a panel of judges, among whom are: Corinne Estrada, CEO Founder of Communicating the Arts, Annette Welkamp, Director of Culture Counsel, and Tom Zaller, CEO of Imagine Exhibitions, Inc.

Zaller states, “Museums play a crucial role in our communities and culture and they have just faced a year of incredible challenges. The dedication, passion, and resilience that I saw museum leaders demonstrate in this year has no doubt transformed our industry in myriad ways. As we are beginning to emerge from a time of crisis, museums must continue to provide safe spaces for dialogue and reflection and collective healing. The influencers on this list represent the strength, creativity, and innovation that is a hallmark of our field, now and as we move into the future.”

Bailes is listed alongside museum professionals and industry leaders from around the world, including: Ngaire Blankenberg, Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Laurence des Cars, President of the Louvre, Piotr Cywiński, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Larry Dubinski, President & CEO of the Franklin Institute, Koyo Kouoh, Curator of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art, and Eugene Tan, Director of the Singapore Art Museum.

Bailes was recognized for her leadership of the Cade Museum through its opening in 2018 and through its subsequent adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As President & Executive Director of the Cade Museum, Bailes is not only a driving force in ensuring the long-term success of this start-up, but also a force for good in the Gainesville, Florida community.

In 2017, Bailes was brought in to restructure the organization. She completed an iconic building construction project and launched expanded program offerings in the new 26k sq ft facility. She has grown the organization from a staff of four to nearly 40, raised over four million dollars in support of the museum, and guided education curriculum development. The museum opened its doors to the public in 2018 and has since seen over 100,000 visitors.

In an effort to transform communities, she has fostered innovative partnerships that have propelled the Cade worldwide and allowed the Cade to continue to grow during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a new museum, the Cade’s growth during the pandemic is both impressive and vital to the museum’s survival.

The Cade Museum pivoted quickly in the early days of the pandemic to create digital learning offerings. When Qualcomm had to cancel its in-person Bring Your Kids to Work Day, the Cade Museum stepped in and created digital programming for Qualcomm employees and their children across the nation to do at home. The Cade Museum also partnered with the local Public Broadcasting Station, WUFT, to create videos and downloadable backpacks full of STEAM activities.

Concerned for children in homes without internet access, Bailes developed a partnership with the Gainesville Housing Authority, COX Communications, and the Community Foundation of North Central Florida to bring free internet to residents with school-aged children living in subsidized housing communities.

As the museum prepared to re-open from its closure during the pandemic, Bailes partnered with Orlando-based start-up Violet Defense to install patented UV disinfection technology, allowing staff to purify the museum’s surfaces and air. “This technology allowed us to bring back a sense of normalcy and restore human connection during these trying times,” said Bailes.

In the wake of the pandemic, the Cade Museum licensed their traveling exhibit, PolyCade, to the Institute of Imagination in London (iOi), for a project of hope and healing. PolyCade is an interactive art installation consisting of paper polyhedrons that can be stacked up to towering heights and torn down to start again. PolyCade was used in iOi’s Big Build initiative, which allowed school children to create sculptures that represented community and celebration of life. The Institute of Imagination writes “This exciting initiative brings much needed creativity to the heart of Newham, one of the London districts hardest hit by the pandemic.”

These are just a few examples of the way that the Cade Museum, guided by Bailes, provided creativity, ingenuity, and inspiration during a bleak year.

“Of course, no one stands alone,” says Bailes. “I’m blessed to have an incredible vision from our founder Phoebe Miles to use as our guide star, and the unfailing support and guidance of her and of co-founder Richard Miles along with our Board of Directors. There is then the Cade’s team of senior leaders who make it all happen including Ellie Thom, Jenna Ostas, Phil Waite, Patty Lipka, and Jody Farmer along with every other Cade team member.”

From Our Sponsors