Press Release: Field Museum selects new president and CEO

Archaeologist and Penn Museum Director Julian Siggers will lead the Field Museum starting in September.

Portrait of Julian Siggers

Following an eight-month search, the Field Museum has named Julian Siggers as its new president and CEO, starting in September. Siggers, an archaeologist, is currently director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He will succeed Richard Lariviere, who has led the museum since September 2012 and announced his plans to retire in August 2020 last summer.

“I’m delighted with the search committee’s choice of Julian, and I’m grateful to our trustees for guiding the museum to a new leader who will continue the Field’s mission to build a brighter future rich in nature and culture,” says Lariviere. “Julian is a museum leader who has shown how innovation, engaging storytelling, and inclusivity work together for powerful impact. He will be perfect for the Field Museum.”

Julian Siggers was unanimously nominated by a 14-person search committee consisting of business and civic leaders and Field Museum scientists and trustees. The Board of Trustees elected Siggers as president and CEO at a meeting held on Tuesday.

“Julian combines a deep love for the wonder of scientific discovery with a record of leading museums to be vibrant and inclusive resources belonging to the whole community,” says David Hiller, the chair of the search committee, a Field Museum trustee, and the recently retired president and CEO of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Since his 2012 appointment as director at the Penn Museum, Siggers oversaw the renovation of 75% of the museum’s galleries and public spaces, including the Ancient Middle Eastern galleries. He also established the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials, an interdisciplinary center for training students in archaeological techniques, guided the museum to implement new programs that welcome diverse audiences, including programs in which refugees act as docents giving more information and context about galleries focusing on the countries they’re from, and led a $100 million fundraising campaign.

Siggers earned his PhD at the University of Toronto, with a focus on prehistoric humans in the Middle East, in addition to a BA in Archaeology and an MA in Archaeological Science from the Institute of Archaeology at the University College London, UK. He has long emphasized the importance of communicating science to the public in a way that’s accessible and engaging. Prior to his position at the Penn Museum, he was the vice president of programs, education, and content communication at the Royal Ontario Museum.

“It’s crucial to talk about science in a way that engages and includes everybody, not just people with a scientific background,” says Siggers. “Understanding science and anthropology makes us better able to make good decisions for our planet, it makes us more welcoming to people who are different from us, and it’s just fun—nobody should be left out from how amazing science is, and it’s the job of museums to make sure that everyone is welcomed in to learn.”

“The Field Museum is a leader in connecting scientific research to everyday learning. I’m confident that Julian Siggers will continue the museum along this trajectory while redefining how museums today can be accessible, relatable, relevant, and necessary for each visitor–whether they are from the southside of Chicago or the southern hemisphere,” says Angelique Power, a member of the search committee and president of the Field Foundation, a private, independent foundation that supports racial equity through justice, art, media and storytelling, and leadership investment. (The Field Foundation was started in 1940 by Marshall Field III, the grandson of the Field Museum’s founder—the foundation isn’t affiliated with the museum, despite sharing a namesake.)

“Richard Lariviere’s eight-year tenure as president was marked by revitalizing the Field Museum in the public eye, maintaining the museum’s historic stature while finding innovative ways to reach people. Julian is the perfect person to pick up that torch and run with it,” says Bill Gantz, the Field Museum Board Chair and president and CEO of PathoCapital, LLC, a healthcare investment company.

During Lariviere’s tenure, he helped balance the museum’s budget, strengthen its endowment, and make sweeping changes to the museum’s exhibitions, including the creation of a new, scientifically updated suite for SUE the T. rex, the acquisition of a touchable cast of Máximo, the largest dinosaur ever discovered, the translation of all new major exhibitions into English and Spanish, and the ongoing renovations of the Native American hall in collaboration with Native scholars and community members.

“In my time at the Field, I’m proudest of seeing the museum grow as a progressive scientific leader, using our expertise to speak up on key issues like climate change, conservation, and the importance of diversity and inclusion,” says Lariviere. “More than ever, we’re showing the world that the Field is more than just a museum, we’re a scientific force, making discoveries that change the world. I know Julian’s going to continue making the museum a place to be proud of.”

“I’m thrilled to join the Field Museum family this fall. It’s an incredible institution that makes a big difference in the world, and I’m looking forward to being part of it,” says Siggers.