People

Meet John Arcidiacono, president and CEO of The Health Museum

The native Houstonian is leading one of the nation's most unique spaces for health education


By Britni R. McAshan | January 30, 2019

John Arcidiacono was named president and CEO of The Health Museum in August 2018. Since then, he has spent time learning how to lead, develop and promote one of the nation’s most unique spaces for health education using his more than three decades of marketing expertise.

Q | You’ve been here for almost six months. How have things been going?

A | Things have been busy. From the second I got here, we opened up Body as a Work of Art, we’ve had our gala, the Teddy Bear Check-up and we’ve had lots of school groups and speaking engagements. It has been constant, but that is the great thing about The Health Museum—there is always something going on. We are focused on making sure we have a good experience here for our customers, that we are looking at what the right amount of staff is for us to have and that we are making sure we have engaging opportunities and visits. We will be focusing on coming up with a strategic plan, charting the course for the future of The Health Museum—where it’s going to go, how we are going to get there and when we are going to get there.

Q | What changes have you made so far?

A | There really haven’t been a lot of dramatic, large-scale changes, but there are small changes across the board, from updating some of our exhibits to collaborating with different folks here at the museum. Since I’ve gotten here, what I have been doing is learning and meeting with all different types of folks—our staff, board members, consortium partners, some of the people in the government here in Houston—to gather information and help us come up with our strategic planning.

Q | You served as the vice president of marketing and public relations at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. How is your background shaping your work at The Health Museum?

A | Fundamentally, marketing is about driving awareness and driving revenue. It is important for us here at The Health Museum to make people aware of what we are doing, get attention, raise awareness, draw people to our educational courses and exhibits, but it is also important to get people in here and through the door. That’s what I’m focusing on here at the museum and that is where the 30 years of marketing experience really helps.

As far as MD Anderson, that was kind of my first, full-time foray into the medical industry. Most people don’t realize that MD Anderson is a very broad organization. Not only do they have a hospital, but they also have research, awareness and prevention and community outreach. All of those things they do are relevant to helping me understand what the community needs here in Houston and how do we reach out to them. I also understand a lot more about hospitals, administration and pharmaceuticals and it gave me a better understanding about the health care industry in general.

Q | What is your vision for the museum?

A | Simplifying it to become a leading museum that helps people in Houston—and even beyond—live healthier lives. There are a lot of ways we can do that, but it will be through our exhibits and educational programs, community outreach, awareness around prevention and partnering with other organizations. Ultimately, my goal is to transform the museum to be able to reach a lot more people than we do today.

Q | I understand you lost a son several years ago in an automobile accident. How did you and your family get through that and how has that changed you as a person and as a leader?

A | I lost my son a little more than 20 years ago. On a personal level, it makes you think about your family in a different way; it makes you appreciate what you have. It also puts a hole in your soul that never goes away and it is something you have to live with for the rest of your life.

It helped me raise awareness about traumatic brain injury. I lost one son and had one who suffered traumatic brain injury. It changed my understanding and emphasis and interest in health care. That led me to get involved with TIRR Memorial Hermann and I’ve been on the TIRR Foundation board.

Q | Tell me about your interesting last name.

A | The name is Greek, originally, and it means Arch Deacon. My dad is Italian—born and raised in Sicily—and he came over to the United States when he was about 21. My dad had a brother going to school at the University of Houston at the time and he was in the Merchant Marines, jumped on a boat and came over. He didn’t speak any English, but he went to the University of Houston and met my mom. My mom is a native Houstonian, is Irish and English and grew up in a family that has been in Houston for many years. She is an artist and I absolutely thank my mom and my aunts. They are very involved in the arts community here in Houston and they opened my eyes to art.

Q | You also were born in Houston. Where did you grow up and how has the city changed in your lifetime?

A | I grew up near Rice University. My brother went to Lamar High School and I went to school at St. John’s. I have four children. So, between my brother and my four children, we’ve been involved with many of the schools in Houston.

Growing up, my dad was a consul with Italy in the 1960s and ’70s, so when I was a kid, my dad would go by and see the Italian patients visiting Dr. Denton Cooley or Dr. Michael DeBakey or any other doctor. At the time, we were leading heath care around the world. Because of that, I have been exposed to the amazing transformation that has occurred since I was a kid. And now, the Texas Medical Center being the largest medical complex in the world has really transformed the city of Houston.

Q | 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the Museum of Medical Science—the first iteration of The Health Museum. Will you be doing anything to mark the occasion?

A | Most people are familiar with The Health Museum from when they built the building here, so most people think we’ve only been around for 22 years, when, in fact, the organization was established 50 years ago. We don’t celebrate that date as much, but we might do something. From what I’ve been told, it started as a small wing in the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) and there was such an interest in it that they wanted to expand the exhibits they had, but the HMNS didn’t have enough room. So, the doctors got together and decided to build their own building and that is the impetus for what we have now.

Q | Can you give us a preview of the new exhibit, The Secret World Inside of You, which opens on February 2?

A | It is such a timely exhibit and it was organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. When people first think about gut health or microbiomes, they don’t understand what it is. When you start hearing about how gut health sets the tone for the rest of your health, it is really a relevant topic. LaTanya Miles, director of education and public programming at The Health Museum, and her team have done a great job at pulling together and working with other organizations to get this exhibit here.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.




Social Posts

profile_image

CHI St. Luke's Health

@CHI_StLukes

Last month, our Health-eNotes subscribers received early access to $10 @Lyft discount codes for safe rides to and from the #rodeo cook-off. Sign up so you don't miss out on the next giveaway: https://t.co/6wUwj4oiNI https://t.co/Kcf4PRJO8C

8 mins ago
profile_image

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

VeteransAffairs

In case you missed the #ExploreVA Facebook Live event on the revamped VA.gov, check out the recap and watch the video.

46 mins ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

#ICYMI, check out this recap of the #ExploreVA Facebook Live event on the revamped VA website https://t.co/Q1HPRAjWvA

46 mins ago
profile_image

University of Houston

@UHouston

RT @CPezman: Congrats to @UHCougarWBB on their @WomensNIT selection! The program continues to grow with @CoachHugheyUH and his incredible…

1 hour ago
profile_image

CHI St. Luke's Health

CHIStLukes

Are you an experienced Polysom Technologist looking for new opportunities? Join the hard-working team at CHI St. Luke’s Health–The Woodlands Hospital! This is a full-time position for the night shift. Apply today: https://bit.ly/2W3QKMS

2 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

We welcome hundreds of patients and their families from outside the U.S. each year. See how our International Center helps: https://t.co/oiN2oEvDl2 #endcancer https://t.co/6tX8scP507

3 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Daughters of the American Revolution Chapters honoring local Vietnam Veterans https://t.co/7XW9D5BLno via @KTVOTV

3 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Return The Favor: Glowing green for Veterans https://t.co/w7LwFweRyD via @abc27News

10 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

@j_rodricks1 @MJEjags @katyisd We are so grateful for these blood donations. They make a huge difference in our cancer patients’ lives. Thank you.

10 hours ago
profile_image

Memorial Hermann

@memorialhermann

Thousands of patients in need of heart surgery may soon have a new option. Read more: https://t.co/3p9SO6C3xz. https://t.co/PZ71Ui3vkB

11 hours ago
profile_image

We'cruitish

Wecruitish

Ready to hire a professional for your business?Well then search our talent pool for your perfect candidate Create an account today!Highly experienced professionals are waiting to perform at very high standards in your growing company.1. Post a Job: remote or local Post your job on We'cruitish job board and reach qualified candidates who are eager to be apart of your team. You will be pleasantly surprised when you see how easy it is to post jobs on our job board. You can also choose to receive applications by email or redirect applicants to a certain URL to complete the application process.2. Company Profile Page You can create a company profile page, which displays your logo, choose images and videos in the company descriptions section. you can add a link to your website and post any other information to attract more applicants. Such page contains all active jobs posted by this company in the second tab of the page.3. Search Workers We'cruitish created a smart keyword search system that carefully scans each candidate’s profile and each listing for the right keywords so that you can always find the best candidates for your vacancies.4. Employer Dashboard You have all the necessary tools to manage our jobs, see stats by job views, view applications from job seekers and manage profile settings in your dashboard.5. Applicant Tracking An appealing “kanban” style board allows categorizing applications by hiring status, look through all the information about a candidate, contact applicants and insert notes for each application.Click here to sign up https://wecruitish.com/sign-upOur no subscription! services let you pay only when you want Per Job Post Pay only when you need to post. Whats included?1 job postingno subscription!Featured Job Feature your Job to reach more candidates. Whats included?5X more exposure & applicationsJob stays top of search results1 Featured job postingDatabase Access Everything you need to grow your company Whats included?Monthly Resume AccessInvite candidate to a jobMessage CandidatesWith over 3,000 page views per day, once you post a job on our board you will get qualified candidates that match your job requirement. With We'cruitish Reduce your payroll up to 70%Highly educated professionals are ready to perform job/task that can be done remotely for a fraction of the cost you would pay traditionally in an office setting.Become a part of the We'cruitish team today!! Don't hesitate candidates are waiting for you

12 hours ago
profile_image

Houston Methodist

@MethodistHosp

@MDMagazine Thanks for the shout-out

12 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

After a surprise diagnosis at age 36, Paula Carrillo finds success with overcoming stage 2A #colorectalcancer with Dr. Michael Overman: https://t.co/iVnpQGygSR #CancerMoonshot #endcancer

12 hours ago
profile_image

Houston Methodist

@MethodistHosp

@GKHoustonMethod Thanks for the shout-out

12 hours ago
profile_image

Houston Methodist

@MethodistHosp

@bernd_montag @SiemensHealth Appreciate the shout-out

12 hours ago