Peabody Essex Museum: What Next?
Dan Monroe, successful CEO of PEM, engineered a major transformation. Successor will either stay or change the course. The case describes the 25-year transformation of Peabody Essex Museum, which was created in 1993 by the merger of two sub-scale predecessor cultural institutions, operating since 1799, in Salem, Massachusetts. Dan Monroe, its founding CEO, began a process of building the institution, which, when he arrived, had a budget of $3 million and an endowment of $23 million in 1993, as compared to a budget of $33 million and an endowment of $650 million in 2018. Monroe made changes in practically every aspect of the museum's operations as PEM broke into the ranks of the top 15 museums in the U.S. All of this was happening at a time when museums in general had lost some 20% in visitation as a result of significant shifts in population demographics and what they understood by "cultural experience." As Dan Monroe handed off the reins of an institution that had successfully run counter to trend to his successor in 2019, the trustees of the museum and its new CEO faced the challenge of how to keep the positive momentum going-and how potentially to reinvent PEM again for a rapidly changing world.