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Peabody Essex Museum: Library Director

Peabody Essex Museum

Position: Library Director

The Phillips Library of the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) seeks an inspiring, imaginative, and accomplished Library Director. Reporting to the COO of the Museum, the Library Director will lead one of New England’s top research libraries, improving scholarly access, building visibility and reputation, strengthening collections and operations, and most importantly, integrating the library fully into one of North America’s largest and most distinctive art museums. The Director will have a unique opportunity to transform a highly respected research library into an innovative and active intellectual hub supporting the overall mission and global scope of PEM.

The Phillips Library has a national reputation as a major resource for the art and culture of New England and early America, Native America, Asia, Oceania, and Africa. Its holdings include more than 400,000 printed volumes with numerous rare books, over 5,000 linear feet of manuscripts, over one million photographs, and tens of thousands of broadsides, ephemera, pamphlets, periodicals, logbooks, account books, and diaries.

The Phillips Library's collections of research material are especially strong in the period before 1860. Its printed pieces reflect the entire range of New England life and culture, documenting the seminal worldwide trade and exploration conducted from this region. The Library's best known holdings include the records of the 1692 Salem Witchcraft Trials; extensive holdings related to prominent New Englanders, such as the complete business and personal papers of Nathaniel Hawthorne; a nationally important collection of original Essex County documents reaching back as early as the 1600’s; and a vast collection of materials chronicling Salem’s rich maritime history.

The Peabody Essex Museum is America’s oldest continuously operating museum. Located approximately 16 miles north of Boston, its collections – many ranking among the finest of their kind – exceed 844,000 works of art and culture. More than a decade ago, the Museum began a comprehensive campaign to conceptually and physically integrate, interpret, and exhibit the full breadth of its collections for the first time in its 200-year history. The institution’s $194 million transformation resulted in the creation of a major new museum – one that creates a richer experience for visitors by bringing art and culture together in new ways, and by presenting art in the world in which it was made. At its re-opening in June 2003, PEM’s facilities ranked among the twenty largest art museums in the nation.

The successful candidate will make the Phillips Library an intellectual and research center that reinforces and complements the Museum’s strengths, integrates the Library into the overall fabric of the Museum, and advances the scholarly standing of the institution as a whole. S/he will develop the Library’s collections in ways that reinforce its most important holdings and that support the museum’s collecting and research interests; expand the use of the Library’s resources, making them a more integral part of the interpretation of the museum’s collections; increase investments in technology to make the Library’s resources, including the photo archive, more accessible to wider audiences; sponsor targeted research initiatives and projects carried out by leading scholars in areas related to the museum’s diverse historical and contemporary interests; create new funding opportunities for the Library; and collaborate with other museum staff to develop lectures, symposia and other activities that involve the public with intellectual leaders in the fields of art and culture.

The Museum seeks in its Library Director an institution builder who can work within the framework of a successful and innovative museum of art and culture. It is looking for both entrepreneurial leadership and managerial competence. An MLS is preferred, but candidates with other analogous experience who can demonstrate their ability to lead and direct both the Library’s operations (including collections development, archival management, electronic cataloging, and digitization) and its programmatic development will be considered. Candidates must bring a both a willingness and a proven ability to develop financial resources. Strong communication skills are required. Personal integrity, a lively intellect, and a collegial disposition are essential.

Inquiries, referrals, and applications (resumes with cover letter) may be sent in confidence to: Alan Wichlei, Vice President & Director and Beverly Brady, Senior Associate, Isaacson, Miller, Internal Box 3211, 334 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116. Email: A complete position description may be obtained at this address as well.


Electronic submission of credentials is strongly encouraged.

The Peabody Essex Museum is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer.

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