Nicholas Cullinan named NPG's new director

Nicholas Cullinan is to take up the position of director at the National Portrait Gallery this spring, replacing Sandy Naire, who has been in charge since 2002. It marks something of a homecoming for Dr Cullinan, as he has previously worked at the gallery as a visitor assistant 14 years ago.
He is currently curator of modern and contemporary art the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, a post he has held for the last two years. Some of the highlights of his tenure include curating exhibitions like Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa: The Venini Company, 1932-47 (2013) and Amie Siegel: Provenance (2014).
The 37-year-old art expert, who co-curated the critically acclaimed and hugely popular Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern – it is the most successful exhibition in the gallery’s history – was described by Sir William Proby, chair of trustees at the National Portrait Gallery, as being an “outstanding curator and art historian”.
Of his appointment, Dr Cullinan said that it was an honour to be returning to the gallery, “an institution I have grown up with and where I first worked 14 years ago”. He continued: “At a time when identity, shared culture and civic values are increasingly relevant to us all, the National Portrait Gallery is uniquely placed to generate a discussion by reflecting on our common artistic, cultural and social history – in short, what binds us together.
“It will be an honour to lead the gallery at a particularly exciting time in its development, to build upon its remarkable success and accomplishments and to work with its world-class team in shaping the future direction.”
Previous to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dr Cullinan was curator of international modern art at Tate Modern for six years. During this time he presented seminal exhibitions including Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons (2008) and Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye (2012).
Mr Nairne announced last year that he was leaving the gallery to focus on writing and other projects. During his 12 years as director he has helped boost visitor numbers (two million a year), delivered one sell-out exhibition after the other (such as Lucien Freud Portraits and expanded the National Portrait Gallery’s collection (raising £10 million to secure a self-portrait by Anthony Van Dyck’s).
“I am very proud of what we have achieved over the past decade,” he commented back in June. “The fact that two million visitors now come each year to visit exhibitions, take part in activities or see displays of this amazing collection in London, as well as around the country or online, is testimony to the dedication of all who work at the gallery and those who support it in so many different ways.”
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