Tyler grad heads N.J. State Museum

Eric Pryor graduated from Temple’s Tyler School of Art in 1992 with a degree in fine arts.

Eric Pryor, a former student of the Tyler School of Art, has been named the executive director of the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, N.J.

The museum contains exhibits in archeology, ethnology, cultural history, fine art and natural history. The New Jersey State Museum also features a planetarium. As a member of the Class of 1992, Pryor graduated with a master’s degree in fine art. Pryor said Tyler helped him gain a more in-depth understanding of fine art by looking at art through the artists’ eyes.

“When I was at Tyler, my graduate colleagues and I would often times attend different museum shows, public galleries and exhibitions,” Pryor said. “It gave me a strong understanding of the world of art.”

Earlier in Pryor’s college career, he was a business major before becoming a fine art major. His parents, both of whom are entrepreneurs, prepared him for work in the arts from a business point of view.

“That had a big impact on my comfort and ability to be an arts administrator because I was always comfortable with business.” Pryor said.

After graduating, Pryor taught at a number of community-based arts organizations around the Philadelphia area, like the Brandywine Print-Making Workshop, Fleisher Art Memorial and Princeton Progress.

“Essentially, in those various instances, that was my first indoctrination into community-based arts organizations.” Pryor said. “While I was at the Brandywine Print Making Workshop, I was running a pulp mural program for teenagers and that was my first real administrative experience.”

Pryor gained a lot of administrative experience working in the Philadelphia art community, and he eventually moved out of the state for bigger job opportunities.

“Each time I ran the small arts programs, they would get a little bigger,” Pryor said.

After leaving the Philadelphia arts scene, Pryor spent eight years running the art programming at the Art for the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in Brooklyn, N.Y. After that, he became the president of the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit, where he worked for six years.

On Nov. 3, Pryor will begin working at the New Jersey State Museum, where he will utilize his experience and insight he gained from his previous jobs at various institutions and from the Tyler School of Art.

“I think Tyler helped me a lot because it made me understand art from an artist’s perspective and not just by looking at it from the administrative side,” Pryor said.

Pryor will have numerous responsibilities as executive director. He will be charting the developing strategy and the vision for the overall direction of the museum. He will also be in charge of art content, art programming, marketing plans and the museum staff.

This is Pryor’s first time working for a state government-run organization. All of the previous institutions Pryor has worked for were privately funded.

“I don’t really know what to expect, to be perfectly honest,” Pryor said. “I’m just going in with an open mind and prepared to learn.” 

Brian Dzenis can be reached at brian.dzenis@temple.edu.

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