Iwona Blazwick to step down as director of Whitechapel Gallery - Museums Association

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Iwona Blazwick to step down as director of Whitechapel Gallery

Curator and critic to leave gallery after 20 years at its helm
Leadership Moves
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Rebecca Atkinson
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Iwona Blazwick is to step down as director of the Whitechapel Gallery in April 2022
Iwona Blazwick is to step down as director of the Whitechapel Gallery in April 2022

Iwona Blazwick is to step down as director of the Whitechapel Gallery in April after 20 years in the role.

She will continue to work at the east London gallery in the role of emeritus curator until April 2023 as well as taking on independent curatorial work on a wide range of international projects.

Blazwick started her career at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and has also worked for Tate Modern as a curator and head of exhibitions, as well as writing as a critic and lecturing.

She joined Whitechapel in 2001, overseeing its 2009 expansion that saw the adjacent Whitechapel library building turned into new galleries and a creative studio space.

She has also championed women artists at the gallery, pioneered a new strand of programming showing rarely seen public and private collections from around the world, and conceived the growth of many prizes for artists, including the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, which was founded in 2005.

“This has been an emotional decision because of the great love I have for Whitechapel Gallery, our exhibitors, audiences, colleagues and communities,” Blazwick said.

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“Over the last two decades I have had the opportunity to exhibit, commission and publish some of the world’s greatest artists; to lead the expansion of the gallery; to forge relationships with international institutions and a huge range of cultural practitioners, important collectors, and philanthropists; and to work with inspiring colleagues.

“As the gallery emerges from the pandemic in a strong financial position and with programmes admired and respected around the world, now seems a good time to hand over the reins.”

Whitechapel’s board of trustees said they will immediately begin the process of recruiting a replacement director.

Alex Sainsbury, who served as chair of the gallery from 2015 to 2021, said: “Iwona’s illustrious direction of the Whitechapel Gallery will resonate locally and internationally as a landmark of such institutional leadership.

“All who have worked with her and alongside her brilliant team have felt the tremendous energy generated here.

“Over 20 years Iwona has expertly cultivated and expanded the gallery’s scope, creating a formidable programme. It is immensely sad to see her leave, but her vision will continue to inspire, at the Whitechapel Gallery and beyond.”

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