Rod Hebden appointed as interim director of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust

Nicola Sullivan, 03.05.2017
Future of £23m museum project was uncertain after the sudden resignation of Hadrian Ellory-van Dekker
The trust wanting to build a £23m museum and art gallery in Swindon has appointed Rod Hebden as interim director following the sudden resignation of Hadrian Ellory-van Dekker.

Ellory-van Dekker's departure last month raised questions about whether a £10m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid planned for later this year would go ahead. However, a statement from the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust confirmed that Hebden would oversee the bid. 

Like his predecessor, Hebden has worked for the Science Museum in London, where he secured funding from a range of trusts, foundations and sponsors, and led the second stage of a £6m HLF bid.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform Swindon,” said Hebden. “I’m looking forward to picking up and building momentum with the HLF submission, and making sure we deliver the best possible bid we can for the people of Swindon.”

Robert Hiscox, the chair of the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust, said the appointment would help the trust achieve its ambition of building a new venue in the centre of town.

In 2013 Swindon Borough Council resolved to relocate the museum to a new site in the centre of the Wiltshire town, with the aim of increasing its attractiveness to both residents and visitors.

The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust was set up in 2015, following an unsuccessful HLF bid by the council in 2014. Ellory-van Dekker, who was previously the head of collections and chief curator at the Science Museum, was appointed as the director of the trust in March last year.

The project has recently met with opposition from some local people who would prefer to see it combined with investment in Swindon’s railway heritage.

An online petition arguing that the new museum would be better located in the Carriage Works, a listed 19th century former maintenance depot for Great Western Railway train carriages, has gained more than 760 supporters.