Salem-based Peabody Essex Museum finds director in ToledoMarch 12, 2019 | In the Press
The Peabody Essex Museum will have a new executive director and chief executive director come July.
Museum director Brian Kennedy, also an art historian, author and curator, will come to the PEM after leading the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio as president, director and chief executive officer for nearly a decade.
“It is a tremendous honor and privilege to uphold the museum’s legacy, to advance its mission, to further its impact, and to ensure that relevant, invigorating museum experiences continue to connect us to one another,” said Kennedy. “Museums help us to make meaning of ourselves, our lives, our community and the wider world by giving us time and space to experience wonder, think, feel, reflect and create.”
Toledo Museum of Art, an internationally known and free-to-the-public institution founded in 1901, houses an art collection of some 30,000 objects. The museum’s artworks, displayed across 35 galleries, include a significant collection of glass art and 19th-and-20th-century European and American artworks created by van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Degas, Turner, and Calder among others. It also owns a modest collection of Renaissance, (including a minor Rembrandt,) Greek, Roman and Japanese art.
Kennedy grew up in Dublin, Ireland. The Irishman possesses bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University College, Dublin in art history and history, and he has penned six books to boot.
Before Toledo Art Museum, Kennedy served eight years as the assistant director of the National Gallery of Art, Ireland; seven years executive director of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and five years as the executive director of the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College.
“Brian Kennedy brings global perspective and experience to PEM. He has a passion for art and culture, and for the powerful effect of art experiences on individuals and communities,” President of PEM’s Board of Trustees Rob Shapiro. “The PEM’s mission is to celebrate outstanding artistic and cultural creativity; and PEM strives to create experiences that transform people’s lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world.”
He called Kennedy and the PEM “a perfect match.”
“With creative spirit, clear goals, and warmth of manner, Brian will inspire the entire team at PEM in the museum’s next stage of development,” said Shapiro. “It is a joy to welcome Brian and his wife, Mary.”
Coupled with his professional background and education, Kennedy’s in-depth experience stewarding museum campaign, expansion and refurbishment proves valuable to the PEM, the museum said.
Kennedy will come to the PEM at what the cultural institution called “a momentous juncture” in its 220-year history: The opening a new, 40,000-square-foot wing and a complete reinstallation of its galleries as part of a $650 million campaign.
It is also important to note: Kennedy’s July 15 arrival will constitute a new era of leadership for a regional museum that has only known one executive director over the past 25 years: Dan Monroe. Monroe’s departure will come after the summer opening of PEM’s major new wing.
Over his long tenure, Monroe spearheaded two major capital campaign and expansion programs ? raising more than $800 million and adding more than 270,000-square-feet of new facilities and renovating or restoring tens of thousands of square feet of existing facilities.
Kennedy’s appointment culminates an international search process that began five months ago when Monroe announced his retirement. Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll met the appointment news with a Friday morning statement.
“Mr. Kennedy has a strong reputation for community engagement, and I hope he will continue this during his time here in Salem,” said Driscoll. “From a small group of sea captains and merchants, to a world-renowned museum of art, culture, and history, PEM’s growth echoes our own. On behalf of the City of Salem, I am excited to welcome Mr. Kennedy to his new role.”