Skinder Singh Hundal, CEO of New Art Exchange

Queen’s birthday honours recognise pioneers in museums, art and culture

Yosola Olorunshola, 13.06.2019
Leaders across the museum workforce are listed in the latest round
The Queen’s birthday honours have been awarded to individuals across the museum and heritage sector for their “outstanding contribution” to society.

Sara Wajid, the head of engagement at the Museum of London, received an MBE for services to culture and diversity. She is a founder of Museum Detox, a network for Bame museum professionals.

“Being nominated alongside NHS workers, foster carers and human rights activists is absolutely dreamy. I’d associated the honours system with the traditionally grand end of our sector, so I hope museum learning folk will feel this as recognition of our collective contribution,” said Wajid. 

The Queen’s honours are at the centre of an ongoing debate about the significance of Britain's colonial past in their titles. While acknowledging the need to recognise the outstanding impact of individuals on British society, many believe the imperial legacy of the medals raises urgent questions.

“The fact that this incredible award still comes wrapped in the outdated language of Empire is the starkest reminder to me of how urgently we need to decolonise our culture and society and the invaluable work of the Museum Detox network on this front,” Wajid said. 

Skinder Singh Hundal, the chief executive officer of New Art Exchange (NAE) in Nottingham, received an MBE for services to visual arts. Having led NAE since its opening in 2008, Hundal has driven the organisation through a significant period of growth and development, building its reputation for creating high quality, adventurous art, and bringing international culturally-diverse art to the UK. 

Hundal said in a statement: “It is a privilege to work in the arts, especially with an organisation that was born from roots communities in an inner-city, multi-ethnic, working class neighbourhood. 

“As much as we have created our own systems which rebel against the status quo, we have also operated alongside existing structures, the very structures that we also challenge and help to shape and define for a more inclusive society.” 

The former head of exhibitions and loans at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Linda Lloyd Jones was awarded an MBE for services to British culture. Her 30-year tenure spanned 160 exhibitions, widening the scale, scope and ambition of the museum’s programme.

The diverse exhibitions she oversaw ranged between fashion and popular culture and more specialist themes, including Black British Style (2004), Masterpieces of Chinese Painting (2013-2014) and Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty (2015).

OBEs were awarded to: Carol Bell, former executive director of Great Exhibition of the North; Maria Bota, creative producer of the Great Exhibition of the North; John Gibson, trustee of Dumfries House; Anna Keay, director of Landmark Trust; Roger Malbert, former head of Hayward Gallery touring; Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery; Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian at the University of Oxford; and Christopher Wakeling, chair, Historic England's Places of Worship.

In total, 1,073 people received awards, three-quarters of whom were recognised for their service to their local communities. Women make up 47% of this year’s recipients, 10.4% are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, 5.9% consider themselves to have a disability and 2.8% identify as LGBT. 


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