Press \\ Press Release
PEM reimagines its curatorial department to focus on collaboration and impact
Released August 24, 2020
New appointments deepen the museum’s engagement with its communities, promote new experiences, and celebrate its world-renowned collection and exhibition program
SALEM, MA—The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) announces a series of curatorial promotions that are focused on teamwork, collaboration, and impact. Following the departure of PEM’s Deputy Director and Chief Curator Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, who recently assumed a new role at the Royal Ontario Museum, PEM is restructuring its curatorial department to align with the evolving needs of the organization and to better serve the public. PEM is creating a curatorial leadership team, expanding the roles of five staff members with the following appointments: Petra Slinkard, The Nancy B. Putnam Curator of Fashion and Textiles, is now Director of Curatorial Affairs; Karina Corrigan, The H.A. Crosby Forbes Curator of Asian Export Art, is Associate Director – Collections; Daniel Finamore, The Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History, is Associate Director – Exhibitions; Trevor Smith, Curator of the Present Tense, is Associate Director – Multisensory Experience; and Siddhartha Shah, Curator of Indian and South Asian Art, has been appointed Director of Education and Civic Engagement.
“As the nation’s oldest continuously operating museum, PEM has remained vital for more than 220 years by continually adapting and evolving its practices to meet contemporary needs,” says Brian Kennedy, PEM’s Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO. “By sustaining curatorial excellence and embracing a broader practice of civic engagement and innovation, PEM is reaffirming its commitment to creative public engagement and to finding new ways to connect with our regional communities and the wider world.”
Petra Slinkard, Director of Curatorial Affairs, The Nancy B. Putnam Curator of Fashion and Textiles
Slinkard joined PEM in 2018 as the Nancy B. Putnam Curator of Fashion and Textiles, following her role as Curator of Costume at the Chicago History Museum. At PEM, Slinkard’s focus has been to foster an innovative and inclusive spirit in the museum’s celebrated fashion initiative and to develop a vibrant array of exhibitions, installations and programs that celebrate the global impact of fashion. Slinkard oversees PEM’s new Fashion and Design gallery and is the co-curator of PEM’s headlining fall exhibition, Made It: The Women Who Revolutionized Fashion. In her expanded role as Director of Curatorial Affairs, Slinkard will oversee the integration of PEM’s current exhibition research and curatorial team, developing new departmental priorities and the strategies to deliver them.
Slinkard is a graduate of Indiana University, Bloomington, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising, a Bachelor of Arts in Art History with a concentration in Modern and Contemporary Art, and a Master of Science in Fashion/Textile History. Follow @pslinks on Instagram and @pslinksp on Twitter.
Karina H. Corrigan, Associate Director – Collections, The H.A. Crosby Forbes Curator of Asian Export Art
Corrigan's interests center on the material culture of global connections and she lectures and publishes on many aspects of PEM’s collection. As PEM's H.A. Crosby Forbes Curator of Asian Export Art, she oversees the largest, most comprehensive public collection of art made in China, Japan and South Asia for export to other cultures and has curated numerous exhibitions based on these collections. In her expanded role as Associate Director – Collections, Corrigan will explore new ways to celebrate the museum’s rich and storied collection through new research, enhanced access, increased documentation, digitization and display, and providing guidance for acquisitions.
Corrigan received a BA in Art History and Medieval Renaissance Studies from Wellesley College, an MS in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. Corrigan received a 2019 Award for Excellence from the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) for her work on PEM’s Asian Export Art gallery. Follow @asianexportart on Instagram.
Daniel Finamore, Associate Director – Exhibitions, The Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History
Finamore has organized a wide range of exhibitions at PEM of American and European painting and decorative arts and in doing so has received grants from a diverse range of funders for his research projects, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Science Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts. He recently curated the installation of PEM’s Maritime Art gallery and is co-curating the 2021 touring exhibition, In American Waters. In his expanded role as Associate Director – Exhibitions, Finamore will identify and develop exhibition strategies that broaden our existing visitorship to include new and more diverse audiences.
Finamore holds a BA from Vassar College where he studied Anthropology and Art History, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Boston University where he studied Archaeology. Follow @mattersmaritime on Instagram.
Trevor Smith, Associate Director – Multisensory Experience, Curator of the Present Tense
Smith launched PEM’s contemporary art program in 2010 and currently leads the museum’s Present Tense Initiative, which celebrates the central role that creative expression plays in shaping our world today. The Present Tense Initiative explores ways in which creativity and cultural change emerge at the intersections of cultures, disciplines, or technologies. In his expanded role as Associate Director – Multisensory Experience, Smith will align the museum’s curatorial activities with its neuroscience and visual literacy initiatives to create experiences that activate the senses and resonate with our communities.
Prior to joining PEM, Smith was Curator in Residence at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College and Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City. Smith was previously based in Australia where he worked for the Biennale of Sydney, served as Director of the Canberra Contemporary Art Space and was Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Follow @presenttense99 on Instagram.
Siddhartha V. Shah, Director of Education and Civic Engagement, Curator of Indian and South Asian Art
Shah joined PEM in 2018 as the Curator of Indian and South Asian Art after a long career as an entrepreneurial art professional and independent curator. At PEM, Shah develops exhibitions that tell the stories of artists, communities and traditions of South Asia, as well as important moments in the history of the region. Opening this fall, Shah’s curated installation of PEM’s new South Asian Art Galleries will consider how colonial occupation shaped ideas and perceptions of India that persist even today, as well as shed new light on the museum’s renowned Chester and Davida Herwitz Collection of modern Indian Art and what it reveals about nation-building and self-discovery. In his expanded role, Shah will create alignment and synergy between the museum’s education and curatorial departments while focusing on community engagement and impactful programming.
Shah earned his B.A. in art history from Johns Hopkins University, an M.A. in East-West Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, and a Ph.D. in art history from Columbia University. His academic and curatorial projects have been featured in publications ranging from India Today and The Times of India, to Psychology Today and The New Yorker. Follow @siddharthavshah on Instagram.