The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) today announced that Lynda Roscoe Hartigan will become PEM’s next Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Executive Director and CEO. Hartigan will assume her role on August 23, 2021 and become the first female director of the nation’s oldest continuously operating museum.
Currently the Deputy Director for Collections & Research and Chief Innovation Officer at Canada’s largest and most visited museum, the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Hartigan brings unparalleled organizational experience, a track record of excellence, and a progressive vision to advance PEM.
“We are thrilled to have Lynda at the helm, leading PEM boldly into the future,” says Stuart W. Pratt, Chair of PEM’s Board of Trustees. “As the museum emerges from the pandemic and what has been the most extraordinary chapter in its 221-year history, Lynda’s leadership will provide a collaborative, confident spirit and an expansive vision for our staff, supporters, and community at large.”
Appointed as PEM’s first Chief Curator in 2003 and rising to Deputy Director in 2016, Hartigan led an ambitious, award-winning curatorial and exhibition program and reimagined the museum’s exhibition, publishing, and collection strategies. She oversaw the interpretation and reinstallation of PEM’s 40,000-square-foot wing that opened in 2019 and was integral to developing and advancing the museum’s collection stewardship, fundraising, education, digital, and global leadership initiatives.
“It is a tremendous honor to lead PEM, an organization whose focus on the potential of creativity, cultural understanding, and innovation are more relevant and needed than ever,” says Hartigan. “This is a pivotal moment for museums to stimulate conversation and connection with empathy and courage. I am passionate about ensuring that PEM welcomes all people to explore our shared humanity through the power of the arts and cultural expression.”
The leading scholar on American artist Joseph Cornell, Hartigan specializes in American art, especially modern, folk, and Black artists, yielding numerous widely recognized exhibitions and publications. Prior to joining PEM, Hartigan was Chief Curator of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., where she built internationally recognized collections by American Black and folk artists and led a major acquisitions initiative for modern and contemporary art.
Hartigan holds a B.A. in art history from Bucknell University and an M.A. in art history from George Washington University and attended the Getty Leadership Institute. Currently, she is a board member of the Association of Art Museum Curators.