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David Pearson arrives with decades of leadership at maritime museum in Astoria

The World of Speed Motorsports Museum is preparing to welcome David Pearson as its new executive director come Thursday, Nov. 2.

Pearson — who arrives in Wilsonville after 22 years with the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria — will oversee the museum's mission of education and entertainment through the celebration and preservation of motorsports by providing leadership, directing policy, planning and organizing staff and leading development initiatives. SUBMITTED PHOTO: WORLD OF SPEED - David Pearson, former deputy director of the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

"I had the opportunity to tour World of Speed last spring and I was just blown away," Pearson told the Spokesman. "It's a spectacular facility and they've done an amazing job with what would be considered a relatively young museum with possibilities."

The World of Speed opened in April of 2015 and is an educational museum featuring historic racecars, boats, and motorcycles that tell the story of motorsports culture. Through interactive exhibits and hands-on activities, World of Speed offers visitors a behind-the-scenes view of the racing world. It encompasses many aspects of motorsports, including drag racing, road racing, land-speed racing, motorcycle racing, open-wheel racing, NASCAR, and hydroplanes. The nonprofit museum is funded by income from sponsorships, foundations, admissions, corporate and individual memberships, and from events held at the museum.

Pearson worked as deputy director for the Columbia River Maritime Museum, leading an executive management team and supervising all operations. He has extensive experience overseeing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) education programs, and implemented a popular underwater robot building class developed for schools from Portland to Astoria.

"We are honored to have David Pearson join us as executive director," said Dave Bany, World of Speed co-founder. "His previous experience aligns perfectly with the mission and values of World of Speed. We look forward to having him join the team."

Pearson's background includes a bachelor's degree in art and communications from Carroll College in Wisconsin and a master's degree in fine arts at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. He also served for 16 years on the Astoria Historic Landmark Commission before joining the City's planning commission in 2012.

"I got my start in the curatorial world and have worked my way up from there, and this is a great opportunity. There are a lot of similarities between the museums in how they operate, and what they need to be successful nonprofits," Pearson said. "I'm looking forward to the adventure that is the World of Speed."

Pearson said he wouldn't rule out continuing his service to the public on either a planning commission or historical committee, but his first order of business is to learn the ropes at World of Speed and to familiarize himself with the community.