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

Bernard Fishman, 62, replaces Joseph R. Phillips, who retired after 20 years overseeing Maine’s largest museum.

Fishman was described as a veteran museum director with 28 years of experience. He is set to begin Monday.

“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 Monday.

Museum officials declined to specify his salary. According to public data, the museum has about a $1.6 million budget through the state’s general fund and other grants. Of the total, about $1.4 million pays for museum employees and other office expenses.

Fishman said 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.”

Fishman, who is married and has a grown son, said he has always enjoyed visiting Maine and looks forward to living here.

The publicly financed Maine State Museum is the only one in the state that focuses on Maine’s history, pre-history and natural science, said Assistant Director Sheila McDonald.

The museum attracts about 50,000 visitors a year, including thousands of schoolchildren.