German historian to take the reins of British Museum
The British Museum is reportedly set to appoint German art historian Hartwig Fischer as its new director
The move is yet to be officially confirmed, but if it does go through he would be the first non-British boss since the Italian-born Sir Anthony Panizzi, who held the post of principal librarian between 1856 and 1866.
The museum is the most popular tourist attraction in Britain and welcomed 4.7 million people in 2014.
However, current director Neil MacGregor recently announced he is to step down as director this December.
That has seemingly led to the museum to make future plans as soon as possible, with the The Times suggesting that Dr Fischer’s appointment has already been approved by the museum’s trustees and will soon be signed off by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Dr Fischer is currently the director general of the Dresden State Art Collections and also has the position of director of the Folkwang Museum in Essen on his CV.
Dr Fischer boasts an impressive level of experience, having begun his career at the Kunstmuseum in Basel, Switzerland, where he was curator of 19th Century and modern art from 2001 to 2006.
The 52-year old studied History of Art, History and Classical Archaeology in Bonn, Berlin, Rome and Paris.
As well as holding a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Bonn, the Hamburg native also speaks a number of languages, including English French and Italian – a skill that has surely proved valuable in his bid to master the art and culture of various European cultures.
And yet he has never worked in Britain, although he was responsible for co-curating a 2006 exhibition of Wassily Kadinsky’s work at the Tate Modern in London.
End of an era
The move comes on the back of Neil MacGregor’s announced departure, with Mr Fischer allegedly taking the post on the back of recommendations from the current boss.
When announcing his intention to step down at the end of the year, Mr MacGregor said it had been a “very difficult decision” to leave the museum he is widely credited for revamping after it had gained a reputation for being stuffy and somewhat uninspiring, adding it had been the “greatest privilege of my professional life”.
The rise of the museum to being Britain’s most-visited tourist attraction means Dr Fischer has a great foundation upon which to build.
Such success has been made all the more impressive when one considers that the museum has by no means dumbed down to suit the needs of a wider audience.
Indeed, one can make the argument that the very root of the museum’s success has been a devotion to the idea the public are not stupid, and are keen to explore innovative and exciting ways of learning new information.
Time will tell as to whether Dr Fischer will adopt a similar approach or stamp his own mark by trying new ideas.