AUGUSTA — The former director of Rhode Island Historical Society has been named the new director of the Maine State Museum.

Bernard Fishman is described in a news release as a veteran museum director with 28 years of experience. He replaces Joseph R. Phillips, who retired after 20 years overseeing Maine’s largest museum, which the release says is dedicated to the preservation of the state’s natural and cultural history.

Fishman’s appointment was made by the Maine State Museum Commission.

“He was selected after a six-month national search and brings important experience in strategic planning, museum operations, and capital campaigns,” Charles J. Micoleau, chairman of the Maine State Museum Commission, said in a statement.

Fishman said in a statement that he wants to guide the museum “to an even more brilliant future of showing to ourselves and the world why Maine is such an important and distinctive place.”

“My connections here are significant,” his statement said. “For 11 years, I was a camper or counselor at two Maine summer camps, one in West Baldwin and another in Oakland. Under the name of M.H. Fishman Co., my family also owned small department stores in Calais and Biddeford. These associations were very formative in my life, and left me with a profound sense of always belonging to Maine in some elemental way.

“It’s exciting for me to be returning here, in a job that is so much about forging similar links between people’s pasts and Maine today.”

Fishman grew up in New York City and received a bachelor’s degree in American history from Columbia University and a master’s with honors in ancient history and archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania.

He was initially as an Egyptologist, and worked for three years recording and deciphering ancient texts in Luxor, Egypt, according to the release. He then became director of a small art museum in Tulsa, Okla.; founding director of the Jewish Museum of Maryland in Baltimore, where he worked for 13 years; director for four years at the Lehigh County Historical Society in Allentown, Pa.; and executive director at Rhode Island Historical Society, where he worked for nine years. 
 

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