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David Brigham

President & CEO, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 

David R. Brigham, Ph.D. is 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. Joining PAFA in 2007 as the Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum, he was promoted by the board of trustees in 2010 to his current role. 

Under Brigham’s leadership, PAFA increased its operating budget from $12 to $22 million, annual attendance doubled, contributions more than doubled, scholarship support for PAFA students more than tripled, and the art collection grew by more than 4,000 works. In addition, the campus was improved by the addition of Lenfest Plaza, the Center for the Study of the American Artist, new classrooms and technology for the Illustration Department, a new Alumni Gallery, the Richard C. von Hess Foundation Works on Paper Gallery, the Community Education Center, and a new café. Construction is underway for a multidisciplinary Arts Center, student gallery, and art storage vault. 

Brigham has guided PAFA to earn accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and overseen the addition of two academic programs: an undergraduate major in fine arts illustration and low-residency MFA degree. He has reinforced PAFA’s commitment to gender and ethnic diversity, which is reflected in that students of color comprise more than 30 percent of the academy’s student body. 

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.