Leonie Bell appointed as V&A Dundee director

Jonathan Knott, 13.07.2020
The former cultural regeneration lead for Paisley will take over from founding director Philip Long
Leonie Bell has been appointed as the new director of the V&A Dundee.

Bell is currently the strategic lead for the Future Paisley Partnership at Renfrewshire Council, where she leads Paisley’s plans for cultural regeneration. She is also chair of the advisory board of Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art and a trustee of the Edinburgh International Festival.

She has previously worked in a range of cultural and public sector roles, including head of culture strategy and engagement for the Scottish government and director of arts and engagement at Creative Scotland.

She replaces the museum’s founding director Philip Long, who oversaw the opening of the institution in 2018. Long is joining the National Trust for Scotland this summer as chief executive.

Bell said it was a “huge privilege” to lead V&A Dundee into its next phase, describing the museum as “an emblem of the city’s design and industrial heritage”.

“The spectacular building is situated on one of the most beautiful estuaries and in one of UK’s most ambitious and creative cities,” she said. “The museum celebrates the designed world and through its programme it enriches and inspires, drawing people in and reaching out across Dundee, Scotland and the world.

"Its role now is greater than ever. The way we live, work, gather, communicate, share, learn and play is changing.”

She added: “The role of design in navigating this future is fundamental and V&A Dundee, with the wider design community, has a critical role to play as we adapt to, and debate, the ideas, influences and social and economic challenges of our time.”

Tim Allan, the chair of V&A Dundee’s board, said: “We are delighted that Leonie has accepted this leading role at V&A Dundee, leading its awakening from the Covid-19 lockdown into a new era. She is a very experienced, charismatic leader with a passionate background in design and what it can do for communities and places as well as enhancing our position in the world.

“Leonie was born in Dundee and grew up in nearby Fife. She has real authenticity, knowledge, energy and understanding of the museum, its importance to Dundee and Scotland, and of the cultural sector in Scotland and the UK.”

Scotland’s culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "I congratulate Leonie Bell on her appointment as director. She brings excellent cultural leadership to V&A Dundee in its next phase of development and the Scottish government looks forward to working with her.”