In memoriam: Joel N. Bloom, ASTC founder

Joel N. BloomWith great sadness, we report that Joel N. Bloom, a founder of ASTC and its first board chairman, died on September 23 after a long illness. He was 83.

Joel played a pivotal role in ASTC not only as a founder, but also as a passionate champion of science centers among national leaders and within the museum world. When he received the ASTC Fellow Award for Outstanding Contribution in 1988, we recognized “his sage leadership and distinguished service to the science museum community,” saying, “His unique contributions as a persuasive advocate and valued mentor have significantly advanced the science museum profession and the Association. We salute his dedication, his vision, and his chutzpah.”

Joel was director and president of the Science Museum and Fels Planetarium of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia from 1969 until he retired in 1990. He was also the first science museum president to serve as president of the American Association of Museums (1988–92).

Many remember Joel as an inspirational mentor who was particularly supportive of women. He influenced many people who went on to become innovators in the museum field. “Joel was a mentor of mentors,” said museum consultant Alan J. Friedman. “I have no doubt several generations of museum leaders are guided by Joel’s wisdom, whether they know it or not.”