Peabody Essex Museum
Smith + St. John has maintained a continuing involvement with, and commitment to, Peabody Essex Museum since the beginning of 2011. The firm was initially hired to direct the renovation and historic preservation of the Phillips Library, an internationally known rare book and manuscript library which occupies 45,000 square feet of space in a pair of conjoined 19th century buildings. A close working relationship developed quickly and our role was expanded substantially beyond that of the initial engagement.
As an adjunct member of PEM’s senior staff, we have been entrusted with additional responsibilities including directing, or supporting as an in-house team member, a range of activities:
- Analysis of museum collections to define storage needs (quality & quantity).
- Site search and contract negotiations for acquisition of an 80,000 square foot offsite facility.
- Packing and relocation of 40,000 museum objects to off-site storage.
- Relocation planning & execution for the Phillips Library, moving the institution to temporary quarters off-site (moved staff and collections which include 400,000 volumes, 5,000 linear feet of manuscript material, 1 million photographs, and tens of thousands of charts, maps, broadsides and ephemera).
- Strategic planning related to defining facility needs to accommodate museum and library collections, and related services including conservation and curatorial support.
- Comprehensive cataloging and retrospective conversion of Phillips Library collections and catalog records.
- Historic Structure Reports for a collection of 15 museum-owned historic 17th and 18th century houses.
- Fund raising from foundations, corporations and high net worth individuals.
- Administrative leadership – when the director of the Phillips Library retired in October 2014, Smith + St. John principal Gregor Smith was asked to serve as interim director while the Museum conducted a national search to fill the position with the right rare book scholar. This is the ultimate example of immersing ourselves in our clients’ business. Knowing a client’s business makes us better project managers.