Eric Pryor

President and CEO of PAFA

Eric Pryor was appointed president of the historic museum and college, beginning January 18, 2022.

One of Philadelphia’s cornerstone cultural institutions, PAFA is poised to move forward into its next significant institutional chapter. A strategic, creative, and collaborative leader, Pryor is skilled at guiding institutions through transitions and will partner with PAFA’s constituents to reimagine the organization and ensure its long-term sustainability.

Pryor comes to PAFA from the Harlem School of the Arts (HSA), where he has served as president since 2015.  During his tenure he secured a significant gift that enabled the school to undertake its first major renovation in 40 years and move toward becoming a cultural hub for the neighborhood. Previously, he served as Executive Director of The Center for Arts Education, was Executive Director of the New Jersey State Museum, and President of the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey. Pryor began his arts career as Executive Director of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation’s Center for Arts and Culture (CAC) in Brooklyn, New York.

Eric Pryor in Museum

“I am profoundly honored to be taking on the leadership of this historic and celebrated institution. I am eager to get to know the organization, and everyone within it—board, staff, faculty, students, alumni—and start writing its next magnificent chapter together.

I’m also delighted to be returning to Philadelphia and its varied communities. It is a city of great art and artistry, with PAFA as its crown jewel.”

—Eric Pryor, newly-appointed PAFA President

portrait photo of Anne E. McCollum

“We unanimously chose Eric Pryor as the next President of PAFA because he has all the qualities we hoped for in our next leader: he is strategic, collaborative, and innovative, with the sensibility of an artist. He will bring a new dynamic to our 216-year old institution that will help us respond to our changing society.

I’d like to thank everyone involved in our extensive and inclusive search process. We brought together students, faculty, staff and alumni, resulting in the best possible outcome as we move forward together as an institution.” 

—Anne E. McCollum, Chair of the Board of Trustees

portrait photo of Reginald M. Browne

“Eric Pryor resonates with PAFA’s shared core values as an institution—its traditions, commitment to diversity and inclusion as well as to education and stewardship, and its foundational bedrock of community.

He made a palpable connection with the PAFA community during his visits here. I am confident that he will be a passionate advocate for PAFA’s legacy and inspired by the work we have already begun to move toward our future.”

—Reginald M. Browne, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and National Trustee

Short Biography

Eric Pryor brings over 25 years of experience in education, museum administration and community-building initiatives to PAFA, America’s first school and museum of fine arts. 

Pryor joins PAFA from the Harlem School of the Arts (HSA), where he has served as President since 2015. An interdisciplinary cultural arts center that cultivates a strong sense of community and creative expression inspired by the rich history of Harlem, HSA serves over 2000 students each year, on and off-site, who study music, dance, theatre, and visual arts. During his tenure he secured funding that enabled the school to undertake its first major renovation in 40 years.

Pryor is a graduate of Tyler School of Art, Temple University (Master of Fine Arts, 1992) and Wayne State University (Bachelor of Fine Arts, Painting, 1990). He completed Columbia University’s Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofits in 1997.

He currently resides in West Orange, New Jersey with his wife and two daughters, and looks forward to relocating to Philadelphia.

text with PAFA announces new president below image of nighttime street of buildings

Read full biography and press release:

Presidential Search Overview

PAFA launched a search for its next President & CEO supported by the firm Isaacson, Miller, with a search committee bringing unique perspectives of students, faculty, trustees, staff, and alumni.

The search firm conducted listening sessions with various community members and, in May 2021, the community was invited to submit input and nominations to help inform the selection.

This position calls for a change agent; someone eager to reimagine an art and educational institution, who is invested in long-term organizational sustainability, and is attuned to the broader cultural conversations taking place at PAFA and across the country.

—Position Profile Introduction, June 2021

Welcome and Connect with Eric Pryor

Community members are invited to send welcome notes and hopes for PAFA's future!

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is the United States’ first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers a world-class collection of American art, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and educational opportunities in the fine arts. The PAFA Museum aims to tell America's diverse story through art, expanding who has been included in the canon of art history through its collections, exhibitions, and public programs, while classes educate artists and appreciators with a deep understanding of traditions and the ability to challenge conventions. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.