Published: July 23, 2002
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Rhode Island Historical Society has appointed Bernard P. Fishman as executive director. Fishman is currently executive director of the Lehigh County Historical Society in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. He replaces Michael Gerhardt who has served a interim executive director since September of 2001 and led the society’s nationwide search for a new director.
Fishman received his BA in American history from Columbia University and his master’s from the University of Pennsylvania. He has been executive director of the Lehigh County Historical Society since 1998. The Lehigh society is one of the largest historical organizations in Pennsylvania, with an annual budget approaching $1 million, 35 permanent and seasonal employees, a central museum and 12 outlying historic sites, and a collection of 30,000 objects, 19,000 archival collections and 65,000 photographs.
From 1985 to 1998, Fishman served as the founding executive director of the Jewish Museum of Maryland located in Baltimore. During his tenure, the museum grew from a small volunteer-run historic building into one of the country’s largest museums of Jewish history and culture. Fishman also spent three years as director/curator of the Fenster Museum in Tulsa, Okla., and three years as an Egyptologist for the University of Chicago in a permanent field position in Egypt.
The Rhode Island Historical Society was founded in 1822 and is the fourth oldest private historical society in the country. The society, which has 2,500 members, operates the John Brown House Museum in Providence, the Museum of Work & Culture in Woonsocket, and the Library of Rhode Island History in Providence. Its headquarters are at the Aldrich House at 110 Benevolent Street on the East Side.
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