Iain Watson, the director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (Twam), has announced his retirement after almost 20 years at the local authority-run service.
Watson will step down in March 2021. He became the director of the museum service in March 2010 after joining almost 20 years ago as senior curator of what was then the Hancock Museum (now renamed Great North Museum: Hancock). He spent a previous six-year stint at the organisation between 1986 and 1992.
Watson said: “This has been a difficult decision but one I have been thinking about for some time. It was a decision made before the pandemic and I believe it's a good time to leave for both me and the organisation.
“For me it's an opportunity to pursue new opportunities and challenges, and for Twam I'm delighted that we’ve just secured funding from the Arts Council Culture Recovery Fund ensuring our resilience in the short-term.
“Soon Twam will need to set out its plans for the next four years - this means the new director will be in place and ready to lead the development of the next National Portfolio Organisation grant application and business planning which they will then see through and implement.
“Twam’s venues will always be very special to me and the future director can be safe in the knowledge that they will have the support of an outstanding team. They will have the opportunity to work with highly committed partners in developing amazing venues and collections and, most importantly, to use them to make a difference to the lives of our region’s residents and visitors.”
Recruitment is already under way for Watson’s replacement. Newcastle City Council says it is seeking a director who will “steer Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums through a period of great uncertainty and social change: leading us out of lockdown and preparing our application to the arts council for the next round of National Portfolio Organisation funding”.