Tate has announced that Maria Balshaw has been appointed its ninth director, becoming the first woman to take up the role. While her appointment was widely reported last week, it has only now been confirmed by Tate. She will succeed current director, Nicholas Serota, who takes up the part-time role of chair of Arts Council England on 1 February 2017.
Balshaw, who is currently director of the Whitworth, Manchester and Manchester City Galleries, and director of culture for Manchester City Council, will take up her new post on 1 June 2017.
Commenting on her appointment, Balshaw said: “Under Nicholas Serota’s leadership, Tate has changed forever how we all think about art and artists and has made visual art a central part of a vibrant cultural life in the UK.
“I am tremendously excited to be leading Tate in the next chapter of its life. I look forward to developing Tate’s reputation as the most artistically adventurous and culturally inclusive gallery in the world.”
Many had tipped Balshaw as a likely candidate for the top job at Tate, due to her success in Manchester.
Balshaw oversaw the £15 million redevelopment project at The Whitworth, the results of which have been universally praised. Reopened in February 2015, in July of the same year the gallery won the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year award.
The expanded gallery has also been a big hit with the public, taking just three months to break its previous annual visitors record with 181,000 visitors in 14 weeks.
Balshaw’s role in Manchester has undoubtedly made her the most influential player in the city’s visual arts sector, and in 2014 she took on the role of strategic lead on culture for the city council. In 2015 she was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Balshaw’s new job heading up Tate would see her having overall responsibility for Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives.
Previous directors of Tate include: Sir Charles Holroyd (1897–1906), D S MacColl (1906–1911), Charles Aitken (1911–1930), James Bolivar Manson (1930–1938), Sir John Rothenstein (1938–1964); Sir Norman Reid (1964–1979); Sir Alan Bowness (1980–1988) and Sir Nicholas Serota (1988 to present).
1. Switch House extension to Tate Modern, London
2. Maria Balshaw, new director of Tate
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