Nicholas Cullinan appointed director of NPG - Museums Association

Nicholas Cullinan appointed director of NPG

Cullinan to join National Portrait Gallery in spring
Patrick Steel
The National Portrait Gallery in London has announced that Nicholas Cullinan will take over as the director this spring, following Sandy Nairne’s announcement last year that he would be stepping down in February.

Cullinan is currently the curator of modern and contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and co-curated last year’s Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition at Tate Modern, where he was previously a curator of international modern art.

He has played a key part in the Met’s plans to run exhibitions and education programmes at the Whitney Museum of Art’s Marcel Breuer building in 2016 following the Whitney’s move to Gansevoort Street, as well as organising a number of exhibitions and overseeing the acquisition of several major works for the museum.

A British citizen born in the US in 1977, Cullinan grew up in Yorkshire and studied history of art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. While studying there he was a part-time visitor services assistant at the National Portrait Gallery.

He faces a number of challenges, as the gallery’s grant-in-aid has been reduced to around 40% of overall income while visitor numbers have steadily risen. Nairne has identified a renewal of the gallery’s facilities and the way that it displays its collection as key priorities over the next six to seven years, while workforce diversity also remains a key issue.

Cullinan said: “It is with great pleasure that I return to the National Portrait Gallery, an institution that I have grown up with and where I first worked 14 years ago.

“At a time when identity, shared culture and civic values are increasingly relevant to us all, the National Portrait Gallery is uniquely placed to generate a discussion by reflecting on our common artistic, cultural and social history – in short, on what binds us together.

“It will be an honour to lead the gallery at a particularly exciting time in its development, to build upon its remarkable success and accomplishments and to work with its world-class team in shaping the future direction.”

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