The Gulf Coast Exploreum announced former executive director W. Michael Sullivan passed away June 5 in Victoria, British Columbia. He led the science center through its first decade after it moved from Springhill Avenue to the more advanced facility where it stands today.

He retired in 2009 and relocated to Evergreen, Colorado.

Sullivan’s time at the Exploreum coincided with a high-water mark for Mobile’s cultural institutions, literally in the case of hurricanes Ivan and Katrina. He innovated the center by optimizing collaborations with other museums, including those in San Diego, St. Paul, Minnesota, and Charlotte, North Carolina, which shared the cost of a Pompeii exhibit.

Sullivan set a goal of two traveling exhibits annually. Those included work with the China Museum of Science and Technology in Beijing, the mummy exhibit with the British Museum, the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit with the Israel Antiquities Authority and “A Day in Pompeii,” which was produced with the Italian Archaeological Authority in Naples. The Pompeii exhibit subsequently toured to six other museums in the U.S.

The former director openly admitted early advice from former newspaper editor Stan Tiner — “snowbirds and churches” — was perfect. Their record-setting Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit proved that acumen, partially because Sullivan spoke at churches around the region who then flocked by busloads to Mobile.

Sullivan was 78 years old.

Local students with big drama gains

Congratulations to University of Mobile theater seniors Ryan Dunn and P.J. Padgett for landing professional theater opportunities, thanks to the college’s New York City Showcase in March. Both depart for the Big Apple this month.

Ryan was taken on by an agent. Padgett received a job offer with Christian theater company Fellowship for Performing Arts in New York City.

Along with fellow students Angel Martinez and Tara Bosarge, they prepared a showcase audition including songs and monologues, and performed for a panel of talent agents, managers and casting directors. All four are enrolled at the university’s Alabama School of the Arts.

Each of the quartet received callbacks from agents.

For information about the musical theater and theater programs at the University of Mobile, contact Bruce Earnest at 251-442-2325 or

Water works on display

Entries in the 12th annual MAWSS “Fun with Water” Watercolor Contest are on exhibit at The Shoppes at Bel Air mall through June 17. This year’s contest attracted nearly 150 entries from all grade levels.

The exhibit is set up in the Dillard’s corridor. The Shoppes at Bel Air is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5:30 p.m.

Contest judges this year include radio personalities Shelby Mitchell of 95 KSJ and Kelly Finley with FM Talk 106.5, Amberly Harris with Cumulus Media, Mobile artist Ardith Goodwin and Jennifer Caillavet, marketing coordinator for The Shoppes at Bel Air.