David Skelly reappointed as director of Yale Peabody Museum

Skelly, who exhibited “exemplary leadership” in leading a historic renovation of the Yale Peabody Museum, has been reappointed to a third term as its director.
David Skelly

David Skelly

David Skelly, Frank R. Oastler Professor of Ecology, has been reappointed for a third term as director of the Yale Peabody Museum, Yale President Peter Salovey announced today. His third five-year term will begin July 1.

The reappointment reflects Skelly’s “exemplary leadership in spearheading the renovation and expansion of one of the world’s oldest and largest university museums,” Salovey wrote in a message to members of the Yale community.

The Yale Peabody Museum reopened last month following a transformative four-year renovation.

Over the past decade, Professor Skelly has guided the Peabody Museum through reimagining what a university museum could and should be,” Salovey wrote. “The result is an expanded space that brims with reinvigorated scientific inquiry, interactive exhibits, and fossil mounts, including a redesigned Great Hall of Dinosaurs, to further spark the imagination of museum visitors.

By emphasizing accessibility in its design and interactions, the museum boasts increased collection and classroom spaces to serve the Yale, greater New Haven, and surrounding communities.”

Skelly is also a professor at Yale School of the Environment and in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Since assuming his role as director of the Yale Peabody Museum in 2014, the museum has raised over $250 million to advance the renovation project and provide free admission in perpetuity, Salovey said. As part of these achievements, the museum established a $35 million endowment to support the hiring of faculty curators in collaboration with departments and schools across the university.

Skelly has also taken meaningful steps to deepen and broaden the museum’s relationships with other cultural heritage institutions both on and off campus, as well as with individual collectors, the president noted. In 2017, for example, the Peabody welcomed the Yale Babylonian Collection within the museum’s Division of Anthropology.

Under Professor Skelly’s leadership, the Peabody has expanded access to its collection of 14 million objects for scholars and students working in a range of academic disciplines and strengthened its link with Yale’s university initiatives,” Salovey wrote. “The Peabody Office of Student Programs, founded in 2016, supports classroom instruction, provides imaging and recording resources, and facilitates research and teaching across twenty departments and professional schools.”

In addition, over the past eight years, the number of Yale courses and individual students interacting with the Peabody has more than doubled, and the strongly student-facing infrastructure of the renovated museum will make it even easier for student and faculty engagement. Skelly has also worked closely with colleagues at the Yale School of Architecture to design and build a new research station on Horse Island and to support marine and coastal projects.

In his message, Salovey also expressed gratitude to members of the Peabody Museum community who contributed to the reappointment review process.

One recurring theme among the comments I received was appreciation for the steadfast commitment Professor Skelly displayed during a period of transformation and growth for a museum that has become ever more dynamic and accessible,” Salovey wrote. “Professor Skelly has led the Peabody with great distinction, and I am certain the museum will continue to thrive with him at the helm.”

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