This is an unusual post for me. Usually I write museums, with a focus on how I see them and little things that I find fascinating about them whether it be an object or something a bit more geeky like interpretation. Sometimes it’s just a good story, like amazing things thought lost that turn up in drawers. This kind of thing – looking at the new person in charge of a national institution (in this case, the National Portrait Gallery) is something I tend to leave to the papers, both news and trade varieties.
At first I was tempted to let this one go by without comment because, that’s what I usually do, but I was reading about the new incumbent, Nicholas Cullinan, who looks rather dashing in his picture from this article from Museums Journal also has an interesting CV. Not only is he an international curating superstar, who co-curated Matisse: Cut Outs, he once worked as a Visitor Services Assistant at the very museum he is now in charge of.
As a fairly early-career museum person myself, this kind of leap seems extraordinary.
Zero hour contracts, temporary contracts, lack of development opportunities. These are the kind of issues being faced by people working front of house now. Not to mention places like the IWM and others considering outsourcing the whole shebang being an issue that not only effects routes into the museum industry, but the audience experience too…
This kind of news story gives those lower down the ladder some hope, and the Museums Journal’s inclusion of it probably wasn’t a nice ‘human interest’ spin on Cullinan’s CV. This point in particular seems to have struck a chord with people:
— Jack Shoulder (@jackshoulder) January 6, 2015
On another note, it’s great to see someone who isn’t ancient (OK, so still male and pale, but at least not stale!) in charge of a national institution.