The National Gallery of Ireland has appointed Dr Caroline Campbell as its new director, the first time a woman has been selected to lead the gallery in its 158-year history.
Dr Campbell replaces Sean Rainbird, a British art historian who had been director of the Merrion Square gallery in Dublin city center since 2012.
The new Belfast-born manager will take up the post in November this year. Dr Campbell is currently Head of Collections and Research at the National Gallery, London and has previously held senior positions at the Ashmolean Museum and the Courtauld Gallery.
A graduate of Oxford University and the Courtauld Institute of Art, Dr Campbell will be the 14th director of the national gallery and the first woman to hold the position.
Mary Keane, chair of the National Gallery’s board of trustees, said she was “delighted to have someone of Caroline’s caliber” taking on the role. “Caroline’s impressive experience, knowledge and passion will inspire both the gallery team and our visitors, and we look forward to seeing her vision for the gallery come to life in the years to come.” she declared.
In a statement, Dr Campbell said a visit to the National Gallery as a teenager inspired his initial interest in art. Taking over the management of the institution was therefore a “tremendous pleasure”.
“I look forward to working with the gallery’s board and staff on this world-class collection, making its riches available to as wide an audience as possible in Ireland and abroad through exhibitions, research and education,” she said.
Mr Rainbird, the outgoing director, said he wished Dr Campbell every success in his role and looked forward “to seeing the gallery prosper over the next few years”.
Earlier this year, the gallery faced criticism from artists and staff, following its decision to award a restoration contract to a company that provides services to direct reception centres, which host asylum seekers.
Aramark, which provides catering services to several direct distribution centers, has won a €7.5 million contract to operate a cafe in the gallery and provide other catering services. The controversy led to a small number of artists removing their work from the gallery in protest.