Rhian Harris, currently the director of the V&A Museum of Childhood in London, will become chief executive of Lakeland Arts in February 2019.
Lakeland Arts runs Abbot Hall Art Gallery, the Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry, Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House, and the Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories, which is set to open in spring 2019. Harris will take over from current chief executive Gordon Watson, who plans to retire.
Alongside the opening of Windermere Jetty next year, Abbot Hall is in the early stages of an £8.5m redevelopment which will include redesigned exhibition spaces and the gallery’s first dedicated learning space, opening in time for its 60th anniversary in 2022.
Harris said she was “delighted” to have been appointed. “The opening of Windermere Jetty and the development of Abbot Hall present unique opportunities to transform Lakeland Arts and build on its reputation as one of the most important arts organisations in the north.
“I’m committed to making Lakeland Arts matter more to a wider range of people, developing deeper connections with our audiences and stakeholders and to creating programmes that respond to their needs,” said Harris.
Watson noted “a period of inspirational change and development” during Harris’s 10 years at the Museum of Childhood, saying she would bring “a wealth of knowledge and experience” to Lakeland Arts.