Editorial: Van Romans turned a relic into a masterpiece

Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

There is a lot of talk these days about Californians moving to Texas. Some Texans fear we will become too much like California.

We say if the Californians are like Van Romans, please send all you can. Keep your oranges and send us truckloads of Vans.

Van Romans

Romans announced his retirement on Monday from the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. He transformed the museum into a cultural and educational masterpiece, and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

The “old” museum was, well, old. Before Romans arrived 18 years ago, the tired old museum was an artifact housing artifacts.

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Van came in quietly but with authority and carried with him the most impressive background a museum could possibly attract. He had spent 25 years at the Walt Disney Company, America’s crown jewel of creativity and fun.

Van had been among the first from Disney to work on the design and development of Epcot.

Part of his time was with Walt Disney Imagineering. He also taught exhibition design and museum management at Orange Coast College.

He arrived with wife Margy in 2004 and by 2009 had been at the forefront of fundraising and leading the charge to open the 166,000-square-foot, gleaming new Museum of Science and History.

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Aside from his museum and cultural exhibition experience, Van’s most notable quality was his lack of swagger. He did not come to town as a swashbuckling cool California dude. He was gentle and kind and self-effacing to a fault. Van actually was a cool dude but one you could approach to discuss creativity and the arts and culture. He carried no airs.

His accomplishments here will last. They are visible in the beautiful museum of bricks and mortar but the real gems lie quietly like his demeanor within the walls where he helped create a huge world of wonder and magic for children and adults.

Fort Worth has lost a leader who let his work do the talking. He made us a better place. And if that is what Californians bring to Texas we’ll take ’em all – though we doubt that many will be in a class with Van Romans.