Q&A with Laura Wright

Eleanor Mills, 16.05.2018
Head of Tate Enterprises to become CEO of the Postal Museum
Laura Wright has been appointed CEO of the Postal Museum and will join the organisation next month. She succeeds Simon Opie, who has been interim CEO since the founding director, Adrian Steel, stepped down in December 2017 following the successful launch of the museum earlier that year.
 
Currently the CEO of Tate Enterprises, Wright’s background is in retailing. She has previously worked for the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Modern.
 
What are you most looking forward to about your move to the Postal Museum?
 
I’m looking forward to meeting the team, finding out about their expertise, and working with everyone to ensure both visitors and staff have a great experience at the museum.
 
I also can’t wait to have a good look around the archive, discover all the fascinating objects it holds, and generally see how the museum works through the course of a day, a week, a month – gradually learning the rhythms of a new place of work.
 
Above all, I’m excited to have the opportunity to help shape the future of a new museum, especially one that is so well placed to tell the story of our connected world – our social history – across many different contexts.
 
What will you bring from your position as CEO of Tate Enterprises to your new role?
 
The Tate never stands still. It is highly ambitious, and makes a huge effort to build lots of connections between art and people’s lives. It understands that museums are complex places with a social duty to their visitors, a duty of care to their collections – as well as a need to balance the books. I strongly believe those are good lessons for any new role and the key to engaging new audiences.
 
I will be bringing a strategic, commercial and customer focus that complements the museum’s strengths to establish it as a must-see attraction following its hugely successful opening.
 
What most fascinates you about the history of the Royal Mail?
 
All sorts of things! For example, I am fascinated by the way in which the postal service facilitated social, industrial and emotional connections. The invention of the penny post was responsible for widespread literacy. I am interested in the business behind it, the objects it produces, and the human stories. Who hasn’t waited for an important piece of post – whether it’s a birthday card, a letter from a partner, or the results of an exam.
 
I want to be able to make relevant connections to society today. We communicate all the time, in many different ways, and physical mail still holds an important role.  
 
What do you think your main challenges will be?
 
I think the main challenge is probably the same for all museums: how to be relevant, important and well-visited in a time where people’s attention and disposable income is so finite.

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