Christopher Breward has been named the new director of National Museums Scotland (NMS).
Breward will take up the post in April 2020, succeeding Gordon Rintoul, who will step down in March next year.
Currently, Breward is director of collection and research at the National Galleries of Scotland. From 2011 to 2017, he was the principal of Edinburgh College of Art, leading the organisation during a period of change, when the college merged with the University of Edinburgh.
Prior to that, he was the head of research at the V&A, where he contributed to Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, among other exhibitions.
Breward has a PhD in the history of design and is a lecturer and researcher. He retained a role as visiting professor at the Edinburgh College of Art after he left the principle position, and a course he designed and delivered won the university student’s association award for best course for 2016-17.
He has published extensively on design and fashion with an interest in menswear, and is currently editing a collection of essays on fashion cultures in Shanghai.
The chair of NMS’ board of trustees, Bruce Minto, said that Breward’s background and experience made him ideally placed to lead the museum. Minto added: “He brings a fresh perspective to our remarkable multi-disciplinary collection, and the vision and ability to further extend our profile and reach, both nationally and internationally, through new creative connections and collaborations.”
Breward is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Society for the Arts and the Royal College of Art, and a former trustee of NMS.
His predecessor Rintoul has been director of NMS for 18 years. He steps down after a 15-year, £80m investment to transform the National Museum of Scotland was completed in February. The long-running project created new galleries and spaces.
Over Rintoul’s tenure, the museum saw significant growth in visitor numbers, from 1.2 million in 2002 to 3.2 million in 2019. It is now the most visited museum or attraction in the UK outside of London.
Rintoul, who was awarded a CBE for services to museums in 2012, said his time at NMS had been a “hugely enjoyable journey”.
Breward said it was a “great privilege” to continue “the outstanding work Gordon and his colleagues have pioneered”.
He added: “I look forward with great excitement to working with trustees, staff, audiences, partners and supporters in making the very best of Scotland’s exceptional collections, across its five physical spaces and in the digital realm, so that through compelling displays and programming we can explore the big ideas and tell the important stories that will make a difference nationally and across the world in the coming decades.”
NMS oversees four sites: the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the National War Museum within Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian and the National Museum of Rural Life near East Kilbride.