Manchester Art Gallery is to appoint a Senior Creative Lead to help steer the gallery and play a key part in shaping the way its collections are used and understood by the many thousands of local, national, and international visitors who flock to the gallery each year.
The post has been created as a senior leadership role for the gallery, replacing the former shared Directorship arrangement that was in place until the end of last year, which by agreement between the University of Manchester and the city council saw one Director at the helm of both the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery.
The new appointment comes as Manchester Art Gallery celebrates a significant milestone in its history, with 2023 marking two hundred years since the founding of the Royal Manchester Institution in 1823, through which the gallery’s earliest origins can be traced.
Housed in what is now the main gallery building on Mosley Street, the Royal Manchester Institution was a scholarly society – promoting the arts, holding regular art exhibitions, and collecting works of fine art from the 1820s until 1882, when its premises and collections were transferred under Act of Parliament to Manchester Corporation, becoming Manchester Art Gallery.
Over the course of the next four years a comprehensive programme of refurbishment will take place across the gallery’s estate alongside an ambitious programme of collection review, research, and re-think. The aim being to create the conditions for new understandings, ideas, and knowledge that can make a tangible difference to people’s lives.
The work is expected to transform the gallery’s public programme and further unlock the rich potential of the city’s art collection to help foster belonging and understanding, and to unite cultures and communities through shared experience and common purpose.
The Senior Creative Lead will co-lead the gallery alongside the existing Senior Operational Lead, and will have specific responsibility for the development and delivery of the public programme across all gallery sites, and the development and use of the city’s world-class art collection for the benefit of the people of Manchester.
Recruitment for the full-time post is now underway, with interviews expected to take place later in March.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Deputy Leader Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester Art Gallery has been part of our city for two hundred years now and as anyone who has visited it will know, it’s an amazing space with a collection that stands up there with the collections held in some of the best galleries in the world.
“A special gallery clearly needs a special person at the top, someone who can inspire and lead its creative direction, and deliver on the ambitions we have for the gallery and its collections. So we’re looking for a creative leader with a passion for collections and people, who embraces methods of engagement beyond conventional modes of display and exhibition.
“The departure of our previous Director Alistair Hudson, to whom we’re indebted for his work in driving forward a clear vision for the gallery as a useful space – an art gallery for everyone – undoubtedly leaves big shoes to fill, but we’re really excited for the next chapter in the gallery’s history, and are very much looking forward to what the next 200 years will bring and the contribution our new Creative Lead makes to this.”