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SALEM, MA –– Dan Monroe, the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Executive Director and CEO of the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) for 25 years, announced his retirement today. Monroe will continue to lead PEM until September, 2019 following the summer opening of PEM’s major new wing and featuring fresh installations of its vast and diverse collections.

Robert N. Shapiro, President of PEM’s Board of Trustees, said Monroe is a widely-recognized pathbreaker and leader in creating an entirely new kind of art museum.

Screen Shot 2018 10 11 at 20.10.06Executive Director and CEO, Dan Monroe

“Just like PEM’s global entrepreneurial founders in 1799, Dan set out to create an experience that connects art, culture and creative expression from around the world in exciting and unexpected ways,” said Shapiro. “He has poured his heart, passion and talent into transforming PEM into the international force that it is today. Dan is a remarkable thinker, leader and builder. PEM plays a major leadership role because of his work, imagination and drive.”

A search committee to select PEM’s new director has been organized and an international search is underway.

Over the course of the last 25 years, Monroe led the consolidation of two historic museums into a museum that operates on a global stage and stands among the top 10 percent of American and Canadian art museums as measured by size of budget, facilities, and other metrics.

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. Other major achievements of Monroe’s tenure include:

● Increase of operating budget from $3 million to $33 million;

● Increase of endowment from $23 million to more than $500 million;
● Achievement and maintenance of the highest visitor satisfaction ratings among more than 80 major museums nationwide over the past fifteen years;

● Establishment of a new financial model for art museums by dramatically increasing endowment to ensure stability and support increased innovation;

● Increase of annual on-site attendance from 60,000 to more than 270,000;

● Creation of a traveling exhibition program that routinely shares PEM exhibitions at first-tier art museums worldwide and serves up to a million people annually;

● Creation of innovative methods of presenting and interpreting art, including the application of neuroscience to the design of art experiences;

● The first appointment of a full-time neuroscientist at an art museum to help create more meaningful engagements with art and other forms of creative expression;

● Acquisition through purchase and donation of art to collections valued at more than $100 million;

● Establishment of contemporary art as a core part of PEM’s exhibitions and programs.

Monroe has been a national leader who served as President of the American Alliance of Museums and President of the Association of Art Museum Directors. He has served in many other regional and national leadership capacities, led and helped develop national policies pertaining to museum ethics, deaccessioning, acquisition of ancient art and archaeological materials, and other issues.

He also played a key role in the creation and implementation of landmark Federal legislation regarding repatriation of Native American human remains and cultural items. He has been active in promoting international cultural exchanges, especially with China, India, and other Asian nations. This includes the acquisition and re-erection of Yin Yu Tang, a complete Chinese Qing Dynasty house on PEM’s campus. This is the largest cultural exchange project between China and a U.S. museum.

“Leading the transformation of PEM into a major American art museum that thrives on a culture of innovation and creativity has been an extraordinary joy and privilege,” Monroe said. “PEM operates today at local, national, and global stages, and works to create experiences of art, culture, and creative expression that transform people’s lives.”

Monroe added that art and creative expression are “central to our identity as human beings and critical to our future.”

“PEM’s success has been the result of the talent and commitment of exceptional staff and volunteers, a remarkable Board of Trustees, and truly inspired patrons,” Monroe noted. “Building on its unique 218-year legacy, including the advances we have been able to realize in the past quarter of a century, PEM is ideally positioned to continue the innovation and change required to enable the Museum to enrich the lives of people worldwide in a rapidly changing cultural environment.”

Samuel T. Byrne, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said PEM is “poised to have an even larger role in the future in creating experiences of art, culture and creative expression. We are grateful for Dan’s inspired shaping of a quarter-century of success after success and his building a strong foundation at PEM for even greater impact in the years ahead.”

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