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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Penn Museum chief takes top post at Chicago’s Field Museum


Penn Museum chief takes top post at Chicago's Field Museum

Penn                      Museum chief takes top post at Chicago's Field                      Museum
MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer

The Penn Museum is losing its chief. Julian Siggers, director of the West Philadelphia archaeology museum since 2012, has been named president and CEO of the Field Museum in Chicago.

Siggers, 56, cited the Field's mix of science and world cultures as a lure to the new post. "It's the type of museum I really like working in, and I've always admired the Field," he said. "It has a very firm commitment to scientific research, with over a hundred active scientists there, and I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to make the move there."

The Field is a considerably larger institution than the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The Field has an $86-million-a-year budget, while the Penn Museum budget is $15 million.

The Field also has had a much larger audience: 1.6 million visitors per year to the Penn Museum's 200,000.

Reopening day after major renovations to                          the Penn Museum in November.
BAIDI WANG / Staff Photographer
Reopening day after major renovations to the Penn Museum in November.

Of course, what attendance will be like when Siggers gets there is unclear. The Field, like all other museums, is closed for now, and the timing of a reopening in the coronavirus era is something that can only be guessed.

Siggers' eight years at the Penn Museum saw a substantial renovation of galleries and public spaces in the buildings on South Street just west of the Schuylkill.

"The biggest achievements are the reimagining and rebranding of the museum," he said, citing new galleries on the Middle East, Mexico, Central America, and Africa, as well as renovated spaces like the Harrison Auditorium and a gallery surrounding a 13-ton sphinx of the Pharaoh Ramses II.
The Penn                      Museum's 13-ton sphinx.
BAIDI WANG / Staff Photographer
The Penn Museum's 13-ton sphinx.

New designs for Ancient Egypt and Nubia galleries are complete, he said, "and when they reopen in a few years they are going to be some of the most stunning galleries anywhere in the world."

The fund-raising campaign for the renovations — plus endowment, operations, and programs — has reached more than $75 million on a goal of $102 million, "so we are in pretty good shape to close out the campaign in a couple of years," he said.

Siggers will be at the Penn Museum through Labor Day as the institution navigates the immediate challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. "I would like to see our own museum through the worst of this," he said.

A committee will be formed to find his successor.

--   Sent from my Linux system.

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