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      Press Release

      PEM appoints Dr. Tedi Asher as first-ever neuroscience researcher at an art museum

      Released May 8, 2017

      Dr. Tedi Asher

      SALEM, MA — The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) announces the appointment of Dr. Tedi Asher as Neuroscience Researcher. The position — which marks a first for an art museum — supports PEM’s neuroscience initiative and is made possible through a generous grant from the Barr Foundation.

      Dr. Asher earned her Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School’s Biological and Biomedical Sciences program and has spent the last 12 years gaining experience in a wide range of fields, including neuroscience and psychology. At PEM, she will synthesize neuroscience research findings and make recommendations on how museums can enhance and enrich the visitor experience.

      “PEM is committed to creating transformational and deeply impactful experiences of art, culture, and other forms of creative expression. We are very excited by the opportunity to be the first art museum to employ a full-time neuroscientist as a means to help develop new ways of designing experiences that are highly meaningful and relevant to visitors,” said Dan Monroe, PEM's Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO. “Dr. Asher’s unique perspective and deep insight will enable us to make the process of art exploration and discovery especially rewarding, stimulating, and fun. We also believe our groundbreaking collaboration with Dr. Asher may benefit the art museum community at large.”

      PEM’s neuroscience initiative, now more than two years old, is based on a recognition that several of the ways art museums traditionally present and interpret art do not necessarily align well with the ways our brains work. “We believe there are new ways to present and interpret art that will enliven and enrich the art and art museum experience,” continued Mr. Monroe. Over the next year, Dr. Asher, Mr. Monroe and PEM’s Interpretive Team will periodically consult with a neuroscience advisory group to review strategies and findings. Dr. Asher will work with PEM to author a publication that guides the museum’s application of select neuroscientific knowledge. This publication will be shared with art museums worldwide.

      “PEM’s cross-disciplinary approach is exciting and comes at a time when neuroscience findings are beginning to be more widely embraced outside of the scientific community,” said Dr. Asher. “Neuroscience has the potential to deepen our fundamental understanding of human nature and reveal the mechanisms behind our human experiences. I am thrilled to have such a unique opportunity to collaborate with an organization that embraces such a spirit of curiosity, ingenuity and experimentation.”

      Based in Boston, The Barr Foundation focuses regionally, and selectively engages nationally, working in partnership with nonprofits, foundations, the public sector, and civic and business leaders to elevate the arts and creative expression, to advance solutions for climate change, and to connect all students to success in high school and beyond. The Foundation’s Arts & Creativity efforts aim to engage and inspire a dynamic, thriving Massachusetts. With assets of $1.6 billion, Barr is among the largest private foundations in New England and has contributed more than $834 million to charitable causes since 1999. Learn more at

      Over the last 20 years, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has distinguished itself as one of the fastest-growing art museums in North America. Founded in 1799, it is also the country’s oldest continuously operating museum. At its heart is a mission to enrich and transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections, integrate past and present and underscore the vital importance of creative expression. The museum's collection is among the finest of its kind boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time -- including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, Native American, Oceanic and African art. PEM's campus affords a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities and performance spaces. Twenty-four noted historic structures grace PEM’s campus, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house that is the only such example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States, and the Phillips Library, which holds one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts. HOURS: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-5 pm, and the third Thursday of every month until 9 pm. Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. ADMISSION: Adults $20; seniors $18; students $12. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $6 (plus museum admission). Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang.

      PR Contacts:
      Whitney Van Dyke - Director of Communications - 978-542-1828 -
      Melissa Woods - Communications Specialist - 978.542.1609 -