Will Gompertz, who is currently Artistic Director at the Barbican, will take up the post on 1 January 2024. This follows the announcement earlier this year by Dr Bruce Boucher, the Deborah Loeb Brice Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum, that he would retire at the end of 2023 after nearly eight years leading the Museum through a period of great success.
Will Gompertz became Artistic Director of the Barbican in 2021, helping reopen the Centre after the pandemic. Will was responsible for a bold, diverse programme, from presenting the 2022 World Premier of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s My Neighbour Totoro - which broke all Barbican box-office records - to the current critically acclaimed exhibition Differently Various, made in collaboration with the brain injury charity Headway East, London. Prior to the Barbican, Will was the BBC’s Arts Editor for eleven years, during which time he reported regularly and widely across the arts and culture. He has interviewed countless architects, artists, actors, writers, musicians and directors, as well as writing and presenting documentaries for BBC One and Two, and hosting shows on Radio 2, Radio 4, and BBC 5-Live. Will spent seven years as a director of the Tate Galleries where he was responsible for its BAFTA-winning website, creative direction, and the launching of the UK’s first Performance Art festival. Will has written two internationally best-selling books: What Are You Looking At? (2012) and Think Like an Artist (2015). Earlier this year Penguin published his latest book, See What You’re Missing. Will has lectured on the arts and creativity nationally and internationally, including giving talks at the Museum of Modern Art, V&A, National Gallery, Picasso Museum, Louvre Museum, Royal Academy, and Oxford and Cambridge Universities – he has regularly participated in the Soane Museum’s ‘By Design’ talks series.
The Museum attracted record visitor numbers in 2022/23. Will Gompertz said: “I am delighted to be joining Sir John Soane’s Museum at such an exciting time, following decades of restoration across the renowned architect’s extraordinary house and collection led by its brilliant conservators, curators, and previous directors. I look forward to championing the Museum and Soane’s vision, bringing audiences to our newly-restored home and taking Soane’s vision out into the world.”
Lord Sassoon, Chair of the Trustees of Sir John Soane’s Museum, commented: “Will Gompertz is one of today’s leading thinkers and communicators across the arts. Sir John Soane’s Museum is the finest monument in the world to the life, work and collections of a single creative genius, and Will is the person to build on Soane’s legacy. Under Will’s leadership, the Museum will become an even finer source of learning and inspiration for today’s world. We are indebted to Bruce Boucher for his leadership of the Soane to great success through the most challenging years and know that Will Gompertz will be a worthy successor.”
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, Arts & Heritage Minister, Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: "Sir John Soane's Museum is a wonderful institution, which has been superbly restored under the leadership of Bruce Boucher. I was delighted to visit its Drawing Office recently, which has just been opened to the public for the first time in 200 years. Will Gompertz joins at an exciting time and brings a wealth of experience and exciting ideas. I look forward to seeing how he builds on the legacy of his predecessors – and Soane himself – to share this inspiring place with new generations of visitors.”
Claire Spencer, CEO of the Barbican, said: "Will is known to everybody at the Barbican for his boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm. The generosity of spirit he has shown me personally in the 15 months we've worked together is unmatched. We're very sad to say goodbye to him but excited to see what he will achieve in his new role, and we wish him all the best. He leaves behind him a strong legacy of projects delivered and still in development and his positive impact on the Barbican will be felt for a long time to come."
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