The head of MUMA’s 2015 Stirling Prize-shortlisted Whitworth gallery is to replace Nicholas Serota as Tate director
Maria Balshaw has become the ninth person – and first woman – to head the gallery, after the prime minister approved the appointment made by Tate’s trustees.
Balshaw, who is also director of Manchester City Galleries and director of culture for Manchester City Council, will take up her new post on 1 June.
After 28 years at the helm Serota begins a part-time role as chairman of Arts Council England on 1 February, but will remain director in the interim alongside his new position.
Balshaw said she was ‘honoured’ to be asked to become the new director. ‘Under Nicholas Serota’s leadership, Tate has changed forever how we all think about art and artists and has made visual art a central part of a vibrant cultural life in the UK,’ she said.
‘I am tremendously excited to be leading Tate in the next chapter of its life. I look forward to developing Tate’s reputation as the most artistically adventurous and culturally inclusive gallery in the world.’
Balshaw, who worked for Arts Council England in Birmingham before becoming director of the Whitworth in 2006, spearheaded MUMA’s £15 million expansion of the gallery in 2015, which doubled its public space and helped it earn the title of Museum of the Year.
Balshaw described the new Stirling Prize-shortlisted gallery as having ’the most beautiful exhibition spaces that I know’.
The director is credited with transforming the Whitworth thanks to a programme of critically acclaimed exhibitions that brought new audiences to the gallery.
She championed women artists, by commissioning exhibitions from leading figures such as Marina Abramovic and Cornelia Parker, and expanded the collections of both galleries under her leadership, adding more than 1,000 new works.
Awarded a CBE for services to the arts in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2015, Balshaw led negotiations with the government to secure a £78 million investment from the Treasury for the new flexible arts venue The Factory, a permanent home for the Manchester International Festival.
The £110 million scheme, which will feature a 7,000-capacity venue, is the first public project in the UK by the Dutch practice OMA. It won planning last week and is set to complete in 2019.
Lord Browne, chairman of the Tate trustees, said: ‘The trustees and I know that Maria has the vision, drive and stature to lead Tate into its next phase of development. We enthusiastically look forward to working with her as she does so.’