Historical Society names new head [The Philadelphia Inquirer :: ]
(Philadelphia Inquirer (PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 11--Page Talbott, a museum and exhibition consultant, curator, and author, has been named president and chief executive of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the society's board of councilors announced Monday.
Talbott, 63, has been acting head of the society since April 2013, when former president Kim Sajet departed to become head of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.
Bruce Fenton, chairman of the society's board, said he is "thrilled" that Talbott will take over, noting she has "worked closely with historic societies and organizations across the region" for four decades.
"She has extraordinary skills in exhibition, interpretive and strategic planning, collections management, and grant writing, all of which will benefit [the society] tremendously," Fenton said in a statement.
For many years, Talbott served on the society's board.
In an interview, she said she will be taking over after "a fairly good run" for the society, and she praised Sajet for her six-year tenure as president.
"The society has risen in reputation and is seen as a leader in the history and heritage community," Talbott said. "During my interim period, which has been 10 months long, we've been trying to build on that legacy of leadership."
Talbott said she was particularly interested in enhancing "strategic partnerships" and in encouraging "creative thinking when it comes to solving some of the financial considerations plaguing us and so many of our sister institutions."
Since the society is not a performing arts organization or museum, she noted, it lacks ticket revenues. Membership provides some financial respite, but is relatively small.
"We don't have a robust revenue stream from our audience," she noted. "That means we are very dependent on fund-raising and income from our endowment."
The endowment stands at about $23 million, society officials said.
Talbott is probably best known for her work on Benjamin Franklin. Along with her consulting partner, Rosalind Remer, she rethought the interpretive plan for the Franklin Court Museum at Independence National Historical Park, which opened last August to wide praise.
She was the deputy director for the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary and chief curator of "Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World," the exhibition commemorating the anniversary of Franklin's 300th birthday. From 2005 to 2008, the exhibition toured five cities in the United States, beginning in Philadelphia, then went on to Paris.
"During the last couple of years," she said, "more and more people are attending [society] programming that's been more and more varied. The trick is finding out who they are, reaching out via e-mail and social media, and making sure people know they are welcome here."
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