I knew I didn't want to be a teacher, but I thought there might be something else that I could do with art besides make it.
Lynda Roscoe Hartigan '72 grew up in an artistic and creative family that encouraged her to find and follow her own passion. And she found it across the street from her house, at the Everhart Museum in Scranton, Pa. She spent a lot of time visiting, taking classes or just hanging around peppering the staff with questions about the exhibitions.
A few years later, as a first-year student at Bucknell, she took James Turnure's Art in the Dark (Art History 101) course, which ended up becoming a career-defining moment for her. She soon switched her major from studio art to art history.
"There was something electrifying about how he was teaching something he was so passionate about," says Hartigan, who would go on to become the foremost expert on American artist Joseph Cornell. "I knew I didn't want to be a teacher, but I thought there might be something else that I could do with art besides make it."
As a senior, she sent 20 hand-written letters to curators across the country looking for insights into a career. With no replies, she enrolled in graduate school at George Washington University, specifically so she could try to get an internship at a major Washington, D.C., museum. She got one at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, leading to a long tenure there, rising to chief curator.
In 2003, she became chief curator at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., where she built the curatorial, exhibition, acquisition and publishing programs and served on the leadership team, helping with the museum's fundraising and strategic planning. Promoted in March to deputy director, she has a more prominent role in fundraising and operations, while still serving as chief curator.
"My portfolio of responsibilities is really diversifying," she says. "I consider myself an intriguing mix of the creative and the pragmatic. This new position gives me the platform to practice that even more on behalf of a museum I deeply believe in."