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Peabody Essex Moves Into The Really Big Time

(Judith H. Dobrzynski, Real Clear Arts, ArtsJournal) The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, took a big step into the future last night: at a fundraising gala, director Dan L. Monroe (below) announced the “launch” of a $650 million fundraising campaign. That’s a bit of a mischaracterization, though, because the money-raising has been going on since 2006 — that was the “quiet period,” as fundraisers say, and the PEM has already received or received pledges for $550 million of that total.

This is big news, with a very admirable component: $350 million of the total — more than half — will go into the museum’s endowment.

As we have seen at other museum expansions, too much emphasis has been placed on raising money for buildings, and not enough for sustaining the museum. Kudos to Monroe and PEM trustees for getting it right. Once that full $350 million has been added to the current $280 million endowment (by 2016), PEM’s endowment will total $630 million. That’s hefty.