Napoleon - An Intimate Portrait

Organizer's Biography and Areas of Expertise

Russell Etling has devoted his career to creating exciting, educational and uplifting audience experiences on a variety of platforms. He has also provided dynamic leadership and created exciting new visions for the projects and institutions that he has guided. His broad set of skills come from his experiences: leading culturally-based non-profit and for-profit companies; developing interpretive exhibitions and media; producing and managing events for live audiences; and developing resources for, advocating and marketing his products to multiple constituencies. He is also known as an enthusiastic and persuasive spokesperson for the endeavors he represents.

Production and Promotion

With a Fine Arts Degree in Theatre Management as background, Etling's early career included three years as a stage manager for Walt Disney Productions (1979-1980) and three years for the Shaklee Corporation's Incentive Convention Shows (1980-1982). Becoming President of Etling Productions (1983-1988), he produced and directed a halftime spectacular for national television, promoted stadium concerts, staged numerous major fundraising events and, for four years, was production manager and lighting director for Perry Como's national concert tours. A member of the Actors' Equity Association since 1980, Russell Etling has produced, stage-managed or appeared in over 2,500 live performances with many of the greatest performers of the 20th Century.

Organizational Management

In 1986, as part of his management consulting services, Mr. Etling served as General Manager for the historic Hyde Park Festival Theatre's all-star summer season. In 1988, he joined the Miami Museum of Science as an Interim Director following a significant management transition at the institution. What began as a six-month consulting contract ultimately extended to a 14-year association, with Etling soon serving as the Museum's permanent Executive Director and later President and CEO (1988-2002). During his tenure, the Museum was accredited by the American Association of Museums and grew its budget from $1.8 to $6.5 million. It also became one of the first Affiliates of the Smithsonian Institution and a national leader training teachers in technology and mentoring low-income youth. Etling has since returned to his own company's activities.

Exhibition Development

Etling has directed the development and/or presentation of dozens of featured, permanent and traveling exhibitions on art and design, history, archaeology, physical science and natural history. Cultivating and directing talented teams of curators, educators, designers and fabricators, he leverages his background as a producer, director and production coordinator to foster innovation, understanding and entertainment in the exhibit projects that he undertakes.

Russell Etling is currently producing and directing a major traveling exhibition featuring 1st Empire authority and author Pierre-Jean Chalençon's world-class collection of art and artifacts. This 250+ object array is largely dominated by pieces that were the personal possession of Napoléon Bonaparte, his family or members of his Imperial Court. The exhibition, Treasures of NAPOLEON, opened in September 2005 at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC and is touring North America for the three to six years.

Resource Development, Advocacy, and Marketing

Etling has a long history of securing resources and support from the public and private sectors for the projects he has guided. He has been integrally involved in the development of many successful government (Local, State and Federal), corporate and foundation grants. He has spent years lobbying support from City, County, State and Federal elected leadership. Working closely with marketing and media production staff, Mr. Etling has always taken an active role in the imaging, graphic design, marketing and promotion of the projects he represents.

Visioning for the Future and Strategic Planning

Throughout his career, Russell Etling has been known for his ability to mold bold new visions for the projects that he undertakes. During his tenure he directed the Museum's multi-year planning initiative to create a world-class facility, the Science Center of the Americas, as part of downtown Miami's urban and waterfront redevelopment program. As part of this process, he spearheaded the Museum's pioneering affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution, the nation's museum. He was also principal author of the project's case for support. At the Executive Board or Director level, he has participated in multi-year, professionally facilitated strategic planning initiatives for the Association of Science-Technology Centers, Orange Bowl Committee and Miami Museum of Science.

Community and Industry Involvement

Active in many professional and civic organizations, Mr. Etling is a member of the Orange Bowl Committee and has served on its Board of Directors, as Vice-Chair of the Orange Bowl Parade Committee, as Archives Committee Chair and Chair of its Pre-Game and Half Time Show Committee. He has served as a Board member, as Secretary-Treasurer and as Vice-President of both the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and the Florida Association of Museums (FAM). He has served on the Board and Executive Committee of the Napoleonic Society of America and is a member of the prestigious Explorers Club. He has also served on a number of Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce committees.

Museum Industry Consulting and Peer Review

Called on for his knowledge of industry standards and best practices, Etling has served as an accreditation site review chair and team member for the American Association of Museums (AAM) and as a peer reviewer for the State of Florida's Division of Cultural Affairs and ASTC. He has been a grant review panelist for the Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs and served on the AAM Subsequent Accreditation Review Advisory Committee for the historic Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, appearing before the Miami-Dade County Commission in this role. He has also consulted on Smithsonian Institution affiliated projects in San Antonio, St. Louis and Panama.

Background and Education

Russell Etling was born in Coral Gables, Florida, and attended The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey for four years (1969-1973). He then graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Miami in 1977 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Management, also being elected to the Iron Arrow Society, the University's highest honorary organization. He also attended an intensive summer theatre study program in London, taken continuing education classes at Disney University and attended the Center for Creative Leadership's Management Development Program. He has regularly participated in the annual conferences conducted by the American Association of Museums, Association of Science-Technology Centers, Florida Association of Museums, Urban Land Institute (Urban Entertainment Centers) and Napoleonic Society of America.

Send email to Russell Etling

Images © Chalençon
A Traveling Exhibition from Russell Etling Company (c) 2011