Penelope Curtis, the director of Tate Britain, is leaving the gallery after five years in the role. She is to take charge of the Calouste Gulbenkian museum in Lisbon, which features a 6,000-strong collection of art works.
Curtis, who joined Tate in 2010 after 11 years as head of the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, has not had an easy ride during her time at Tate Britain. Last year the Sunday Times art critic and broadcaster Waldemar Januszczak wrote that she was a ‘disaster’ and that ‘she has to go’. He was not alone in his criticism of her approach to exhibition making and the running of the gallery.
During her tenure, Tate Britain underwent a major, £45m renovation and refurbishment by the architects Caruso St John, attracting plaudits and praise. And in 2013 Curtis implemented a chronological rehang of the gallery’s permanent collection which was generally well recieved.
Speaking about her new role in Portugal, which she will take up this autumn, Curtis said: “I look forward to working in Portugal and working with a strong institution which is looking for change. I want to keep all that is good about the museum, which I admire deeply, while developing ways in which it can make more of its context and position, especially in relation to the neighbouring Modern Art Centre, and more widely.”
Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, said of Curtis: “During her tenure, Tate Britain has staged several of the most successful exhibitions in the gallery’s history, including Turner in 2014, Lowry in 2013 and the Pre-Raphaelites in 2012.
“The programme has combined new appraisals of familiar figures with exhibitions which have broadened the range of subjects presented, such as Folk Art, while also welcoming external voices and expertise. We shall miss Penelope but we are delighted that a distinguished British scholar is the first international director to lead and develop this prestigious museum.”