Lee will join the Whitworth from London’s Tate Modern, where she is a Senior Curator of International Art. Since 2019 she has led the ‘Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational’, a major research initiative in partnership with Hyundai Motor, exploring new perspectives on global art histories. In 2021 she was also appointed Artistic Director of South Korea’s 14th Gwangju Biennale, which opened in April 2023.
During her tenure at Tate Modern, Lee curated several major exhibitions and displays including Richard Bell: Embassy (2023), A Year in Art: Australia 1992 (2021-23), and Nam June Paik (2019-20), which went on to tour to Europe, USA and Asia. She also played an invaluable role in shaping Tate's international art collection strategy by leading such initiatives as Asia Pacific Acquisitions Committee and the co-acquisition programme with Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia, in partnership with the Qantas Foundation.
She will take up her role at the Whitworth in August 2023 and will become Honorary Professor of Transcultural Curating at the University.
Speaking about her forthcoming position as the Whitworth’s Director, Sook-Kyung Lee said: “It is a huge honour for me to take up the role of Director at the Whitworth, one of the most innovative and audience-focused art institutions in the UK and internationally. I have admired the Whitworth's commitment to work with local communities and to use art for positive social change. I would like to further develop the gallery in its artistic rigour and social impacts and to widen its global connections, along with the gallery's dedicated staff and The University of Manchester.”
The Whitworth operates as a convening space between the University and the people of the city. It was founded in 1889 as The Whitworth Institute and Park in memory of the industrialist Sir Joseph Whitworth for “the perpetual gratification of the people of Manchester” and continues this mission today in new contexts.
Nalin Thakkar, Vice-President for Social Responsibility at The University of Manchester said: “I am delighted that Sook-Kyung Lee is joining us as the new Director of the Whitworth art gallery and will take up the position as Honorary Professor of Transcultural Curating. There is a fantastic opportunity to build on the Whitworth’s international renown as a leading cultural institution, whilst working closely with the University, the city of Manchester, our community partners and other stakeholders to strengthen its current focus and explore new exciting directions for the future.
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