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David Brigham

President & CEO, Historical Society of Pennsylvania

David R. Brigham, Ph.D. became the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in November 2020. 

Prior to joining the Historical Society, David was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), the nation’s first museum and first school of fine arts. Dr. Brigham came to PAFA in 2007 as the Edna. S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum. He was later promoted to PAFA CEO in 2010.

At PAFA, Brigham presided over a transformative period of growth and innovation.  Working closely with the Board and his colleagues, he amplified PAFA’s mission by doubling its annual operating budget, increasing its annual giving from $2 million to more than $5 million, increasing its endowment by more than $40 million, and raising $24.5 million to fund PAFA’s campus master plan that resulted in more than 50,000 square feet of renovations. 

In advancing PAFA’s mission, Dr. Brigham transformed the exhibition program from presenting content organized by other museums to one that produced dozens of original exhibitions developed by PAFA’s curators, resulting in new scholarship, major publications, national tours, and recognition for previously under represented women and artists of color. The collections grew through gift and purchase by an unprecedented 25%, with a particular emphasis on contemporary art; works by women, LGBTQ artists, and artists of color; as well as a number of significant works by Hudson River School artists.

Brigham earned bachelor’s degrees in English and accounting, summa cum laude, from the University of Connecticut, before earning his master’s in museum studies/American civilization and doctorate in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania. He has published, organized exhibitions, and delivered invited lectures on a broad range of American art from the 17th to late 20th centuries, including a book about PAFA’s founder Charles Willson Peale.