September 23, 2019
Peabody Essex Museum Names Brian Kennedy Exec. Dir., CEO

Brian Kennedy
March 11, 2019 — The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, one of the largest nonprofits in Massachusetts in terms of total assets, last week announced the appointment of Brian Kennedy as its next executive director and chief executive officer.

Kennedy, who currently heads the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) in Ohio, will succeed Dan Monroe, who has served the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) as executive director and CEO for the last 25 years, in July. Monroe last fall announced his plan to retire.

“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, PEM board president. “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. Brian and PEM are a perfect match at this important and exciting moment.”

The museum "Kennedy takes the helm at a momentous juncture in PEM’s history as it prepares to open a new, 40,000-square-foot wing and undertakes a complete reinstallation of its galleries," funded by its $650 million Connect Campaign.

Kennedy has held senior leadership positions at art museums around the world, including posts in Ireland, Australia, and the United States. Since 2010, he has served as the TMA’s President, Director, and CEO. He has overseen one of America’s great art collections and strengthened the museum through significant acquisitions, creative programing, and a holistic strategic plan to more deeply integrate the museum into the community.

“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, a respected art historian, curator ,and author, has written six books, most recently on the artists Sean Scully and Frank Stella. He is a past chair of the Irish Association of Art Historians and of the Council of Australian Art Museum Directors. He was a trustee and treasurer of the Association of Art Museum Directors, and is peer reviewer for the American Association of Museums, and a member of the International Association of Art Critics.

He 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 and seven years as director of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

Kennedy has in-depth experience leading museum campaign, expansion, and refurbishment projects.

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.

PEM, with $708 million in assets, last year was ranked as the third largest nonprofit organization in Massachusetts.

Attendance at PEM in 2017 was 279,000 visitors, up 9.8% over the previous year, according to the Boston Business Journal, making it the twelfth highest most visited nonprofit museums in Massachusetts.

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