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Ernst E. Both, who headed the Buffalo Museum of Science from 1984 to 1995, is coming out of retirement to serve as interim president.

Both, 69, will step in for the man who succeeded him, Michael J. Smith, who resigned Jan. 7 as president and chief executive officer to become executive director of the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Mass.

The Science Museum board of managers has hired Korn/Ferry International, which specializes in recruiting senior executives for health care, education and nonprofit organizations, to find Smith's permanent replacement.

In the meantime, Both -- an experienced hand who has worn as many as three hats at once while serving the museum -- should have a steadying influence. The 138-year-old institution has recorded steep deficits for three straight years and is struggling to develop a master plan for its Humboldt Parkway building.

Both pledged to help "chart a progressive course for the future."

He joined the museum in 1959 as curator of astronomy. In 1978, he also became both curator of mycology -- the study of mushrooms and fungi -- and acting director of the museum, under a two-year contract.

Both was appointed full-time director in 1984 and president in 1990.

During his tenure, he established the Edward G. Gibson Hall of Space and launched an enterprising traveling exhibition program.

He cultivated a relationship with the Buffalo Board of Education that resulted in construction of the Charles R. Drew Science Magnet School next to the museum. It was the first public school in the nation to be physically and programmatically linked to a museum.

In addition, Both realigned the curatorial divisions, updated and relocated the research library and established a science education program to enhance the museum's mission.

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