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New direction for Peabody Essex Museum

Brian Kennedy, the new Peabody Essex Museum CEO
Brian Kennedy, the new Peabody Essex Museum CEO (Courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum)

SALEM — Peabody Essex Museum has named Brian Kennedy its new executive director and CEO. Kennedy, a native of Dublin, Ireland, was most recently president, director and CEO of the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio. He will join PEM on July 15, succeeding Dan Monroe, who retired after 25 years guiding the internationally-renowned museum.

Kennedy takes the helm as PEM prepares to open a new, 40,000-square-foot wing and undertake a complete reinstallation of its galleries as part of its $650 million Connect Campaign.

“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,” said Rob Shapiro, president of PEM’s Board of Trustees. “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.”

“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. I look forward to ensuring PEM continues to be a vital resource, a hub of innovation, and a force of good in the world for years to come.”

“Kennedy is a visionary executive who prioritizes creativity, values innovation, and fosters excellence,” said Sam Byrne, chair of PEM’s Board of Trustees. “He embodies the guiding spirit, energy, and drive of PEM and we are thrilled to see him build upon the tremendous legacy of Dan Monroe and his transformative leadership.”

Kennedy studied art history and history at University College in Dublin, earning bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. He spent eight years as assistant director of the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin (1989-1997) and seven years as director of the National Gallery of Australia (1997-2004) in Canberra. From 2005-2010, he was director of Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum of Art in Hanover, N.H., which has one of the largest and finest art collections at an American college or university.

Kennedy is also a respected art historian, curator and author. He has written six books, most recently on the artists Sean Scully and Frank Stella.

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