Elaine started her museum career at the Boston Children’s Museum and was part of the senior staff group that planned the museum’s 1979 move from its original location to a new warehouse facility along Fort Point Channel. She spent five years as deputy director of the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and two years as deputy director for the National Museum of the American Indian. She also has been involved in Te Papa (New Zealand’s national museum), the Cranbrook Institute, the Dubai Municipality Children’s Museum, and the National Discovery Museum (Thailand). She writes extensively; many of her essays appear in Civilizing the Museum (2006). In the essay “Moving the Museum,” she discusses the Boston Children’s Museum’s roller-coaster experiences during four years of planning for a move and the first year in its new building.
She is a board member for The International Council of Museums (ICOM), and a frequent keynote speaker at museum conferences nationally and internationally. She holds a master’s degree in education and originally taught art for K–6 before moving into the museum world.