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Philanthropists James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes have made a significant donation to enhance the Peabody Essex Museum’s 120,000-square-foot Collection Center in Rowley. Their eight-figure gift will support the museum’s efforts to house, care for, and improve access to its collection of over 800,000 works of art and culture, representing more than 12,000 years of global artistic and cultural creativity.

“As longtime champions of [the Peabody Essex Museum], we are delighted to support the Collection Center, a facility that is critically important to the museum’s mission,” the Hawkes say. “Our gift ensures that [the museums’s] superlative collection is stewarded at the highest level and that more and more works are made increasingly accessible to the public.”

The state-of-the-art facility will now be named the James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes Collection Center. In addition, the Hawkes, longtime supporters of the museum’s work, have named the position of Director of Collections, now held by John Childs.

“This landmark gift will enhance museum operations for generations to come,” says Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, the museum’s Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Executive Director and CEO. “Thanks to the Hawkes family, PEM will be able to advance an extensive fit-up of the facility that will provide exemplary storage and care for our collection while facilitating greater access for our visitors, scholars, and staff.”

Stuart Pratt, chair of the museum’s Board of Trustees, adds, “We are deeply moved by this act of supreme generosity. The magnitude of the Hawkes’ donation ensures that the museum’s vast and storied collections will be cared for at the highest standards, in perpetuity.” 

James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes have been devoted leaders in the Peabody Essex Museum community for nearly two decades. Recently assuming Trustee Emeritus status, Mr. Hawkes served on the Board of Trustees for 18 years and also served on the museum’s executive, finance, and collections committees. The Hawkes are active members of the Asian Export Art Visiting Committee, and Mrs. Hawkes is a member of museum’s American Decorative Arts and Fashion Visiting Committees.

The Peabody Essex Museum celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming, and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections, integrate past and present, and underscore the vital importance of creative expression. The museum’s collection is among the finest of its kind, including superlative works from around the globe and across time — American art and architecture, American decorative arts, Asian and Asian export art, maritime, Native American, Oceanic, and African art, fashion and textiles and photography, as well as one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts.

The Center is also home to PEM’s Phillips Library, one of the oldest library collections in the country, which holds several hundred thousand volumes and one linear mile of archival material.

“The importance of this gift and PEM’s profound appreciation cannot be overstated,” said John Childs, PEM’s James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes Director of Collections. “The Hawkes’ kindness, sound judgment, and passion for the arts have been a guiding force for us all, and we are so honored that the Collection Center and the Director of Collections position will proudly bear their name.”