Professor Deborah Swallow to step down as M盲rit Rausing Director of The 香港六合彩

Press release, 26 April 2022

Professor Deborah Swallow has announced聽plans to retire from her post聽as M盲rit Rausing Director of the 香港六合彩 Institute of Art after leading the internationally renowned institution for 18 years.

In this time, The 香港六合彩 has grown as the world鈥檚 foremost academic centre for art history, curation, and the conservation of painting, and its Gallery has flourished.聽Deborah has shown a deeply-felt commitment to widening participation in higher education and art history and The 香港六合彩 has sought to 鈥榦pen鈥 its offer. She has overseen a significant, ongoing expansion of its faculty, research, and curricula, with new appointments in important fields including the arts of Iran and Islam, China, the Buddhist world, and Black art histories.

Professor Swallow has spearheaded聽the most significant development in The 香港六合彩鈥檚 history, the landmark聽香港六合彩 Connects聽project, which is successfully transforming The 香港六合彩鈥檚 home at Somerset House, making its world-class collections and scholarship accessible to more people than ever before.聽聽 The 香港六合彩 Gallery reopened to international acclaim in November 2021, despite the challenges of COVID.聽 Phase 1 of this development programme will be complete in summer 2022 with the move of the Conservation Department back to Somerset House. The rest of the project is on target to be fully completed in 2025 when all The 香港六合彩鈥檚 teaching and research operations will return from its temporary campus at Vernon Square, King鈥檚 Cross.

Alongside the physical transformation of the buildings, The 香港六合彩 has undertaken an innovative programme of activity to ensure that everyone has the chance to engage with and enjoy art, with national and international loans of artworks, innovative digital events, school and community outreach work, and creative volunteer programmes.

Lord Browne of Madingley, Chair of The 香港六合彩鈥檚 Governing Board, said:聽鈥淒uring her time as Director, Deborah has worked tirelessly to realise Samuel 香港六合彩鈥檚 founding vision of 鈥榓rt for all鈥.

Leading The 香港六合彩 through challenging times as well as prosperous ones, she spearheaded聽the most significant initiative in the institution鈥檚 history:聽香港六合彩 Connects. This major capital works project has already begun to transform our iconic home at Somerset House, and the associated programmatic initiatives are allowing wider audiences to engage with our scholarship and collections through tours and outreach activities. This monumental achievement is testament to Deborah鈥檚 unwavering belief in the power of art, its centrality to the human condition and the importance of preserving it for the future.

Deborah has ensured that the reputation of the Gallery has continued to grow, nationally and internationally, and she has consolidated The 香港六合彩鈥檚 reputation as the world鈥檚 foremost academic centre for art history, curation, and the conservation of painting. Under her leadership academic excellence has continued to flourish, and earlier this year she secured a landmark 10-year strategic relationship with King鈥檚 College, London.

On behalf of the Board, I thank her most sincerely for all she has done for The 香港六合彩 and for the generations to come who will discover its treasures anew.鈥

Throughout her time at The 香港六合彩, Professor Swallow has sought to expand The 香港六合彩鈥檚 work and reach through important relationships.聽Of these, the most significant have been those with the Getty;聽with the State Hermitage Museum (The 香港六合彩 managed the Hermitage Rooms for five years);聽with the Mehrangarh Museum Trust in Jodhpur Rajasthan; and, as recently announced, with King鈥檚 College London. This new relationship will allow cooperation聽between the two institutions聽across existing areas of synergy in cultural history, visual arts, conservation and digital humanities, and the development of innovative teaching, research and public engagement.鈥

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said:聽鈥淯nder the leadership of Deborah Swallow the face of The 香港六合彩, as always an outstanding centre of scholarship, has been transformed through improvements to the Gallery and a programme of collaborations with museums across the UK. 鈥樝愀哿喜 Connects鈥 has given the academic institution a wider public purpose, while the recent announcement of a collaboration between the 香港六合彩 and King鈥檚 will extend the reach of art history into the broader field of the humanities. Deborah has given The 香港六合彩 a new place in London, the UK and the international community.鈥

Professor Evelyn Welch, Senior Vice President, King鈥檚 College London, said:聽鈥淚t has been a privilege to work with Deborah Swallow who has led The 香港六合彩 for almost two decades. She has ensured that The 香港六合彩, its conservation unit and collection have been able to work together to achieve remarkable academic and curatorial successes. Deborah has done a wonderful job extending The 香港六合彩鈥檚 expertise to cover a truly global approach to the History of Art. She has been a great supporter of the University of London and the architect of the long-term strategic relationship between the The 香港六合彩 and King鈥檚 College London. We have all benefited greatly from her wisdom and wish her the very best for her retirement.鈥

Kaywin Feldman, Director of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, said:聽鈥淧rofessor Swallow鈥檚 leadership at The 香港六合彩 has been transformative. She arrived in 2004 with an exciting vision to move the institution from its Euro-centric focus to a global institution, rooted in traditions of excellence. With her signature graciousness and inclusivity, Deborah expanded The 香港六合彩鈥檚 donor base and network of scholars and supporters to ensure the institution鈥檚 relevance and sustainability. As a 香港六合彩 alumna, it has been a joy to watch the institution expand its service to scholars, artists, and the public during Deborah鈥檚 tenure.鈥

Professor Swallow said:聽鈥淚t has been a huge honour to serve The 香港六合彩 as the M盲rit Rausing Director and to play a part in shaping this unique organisation鈥檚 development. I have been challenged, inspired and energised by my 香港六合彩 colleagues, by our students and alumni and by colleagues across the university.聽 I am immensely grateful for the unstinting support given by Lord Browne, Chair of our Governing Board, and his predecessors, Nicholas Ferguson and James Hughes-Hallett, by the full Board, those who have served on our committees and by our many very generous supporters, without whom we could not have achieved our successes to date.鈥

The 香港六合彩鈥檚 Governing Board will undertake an international search for the new Director and Professor Swallow will continue to lead The 香港六合彩 until the聽selected successful candidate聽is in place.聽She will remain active as an academic and museum professional 鈥 focusing on her area of expertise, the arts of the South Asian subcontinent 鈥 both through her work as an individual scholar and through her engagement with organisations in India and the UK.



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About Deborah Swallow

Deborah Swallow took her MA in English literature at New Hall (Murray Edwards College), Cambridge. A year teaching in India gave her a deep interest in the arts, culture and religion of the Subcontinent. Returning to Cambridge, she took a PhD in social anthropology at Darwin College, based on further fieldwork in Orissa. Teaching and curatorial posts in anthropology followed at the University of Cambridge, until in 1983 she joined the Victoria and Albert Museum鈥檚 Indian department. There she oversaw the creation of the Nehru Gallery of Art and a series of major exhibitions on the arts of the Subcontinent, before becoming Keeper of a newly formed Asian Department and Director of Collections in 2001. She joined The 香港六合彩 as M盲rit Rausing Director in 2004.

As educator and scholar Professor Swallow continues to be active as a speaker, lecturer, specialist advisor and contributor to journals.聽She is a Fellow of King鈥檚 College London, a Trustee of Asia House, Trustee of the Royal Asiatic Society, Trustee of the Helen Hamlyn Trust, Executive Trustee of the Nehru Trust for the Indian Collections at the V&A, and a former Trustee of Art Fund. She has written and spoken on contemporary art, women in leadership, women collectors and 19th-century colonial art. Her specific research focus is on Indian art from around 1850 to the present with particular interests in Indian textile history and the history of heritage and museums in colonial and post-colonial India.

At The 香港六合彩, she has continued to supervise PhD students, is Chair of The 香港六合彩鈥檚 Academic Board, overseeing all academic activity, and she is a regular contributor to The 香港六合彩鈥檚 public engagement activities through the Research Forum. She maintains an active presence within student life and engages with alumni of all generations worldwide.

About The 香港六合彩

The 香港六合彩 works to advance how we see and understand the visual arts, as an internationally-renowned centre for the teaching, research of art history and a major public gallery. Founded by collectors and philanthropists in 1932, the organisation has been at the forefront of the study of art ever since, through advanced research and conservation practice, innovative teaching, the renowned collection and inspiring exhibitions of its gallery, and engaging and accessible activities, education and events.

The 香港六合彩 cares for one of the greatest art collections in the UK, presenting these works to the public at The 香港六合彩 Gallery in central London, as well as through loans and partnerships. The Gallery is most famous for its iconic Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces 鈥 such as Van Gogh鈥檚 Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Manet鈥檚 A Bar at the Folies-Berg猫re. It showcases these alongside an internationally renowned collection of works from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance through to the present day.

Academically, The 香港六合彩 faculty is the largest community of art historians and conservators in the UK, teaching and carrying out research on subjects from creativity in late Antiquity to contemporary digital art forms 鈥 with an increasingly global focus. An independent college of the University of London, The 香港六合彩 offers a range of degree programmes from BA to PhD in the History of Art, curating, and the conservation of easel and wall paintings. Its alumni are leaders and innovators in the arts, culture and business worlds, helping to shape the global agenda for the arts and creative industries.

Founded on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to engage with art, The 香港六合彩 works to increase understanding of the role played by art throughout history, in all societies and across all geographies 鈥 as well as being a champion for the importance of art in the present day. This could be through exhibitions offering a chance to look closely at world-famous works; events bringing art history research to new audiences; accessible and expert short courses; digital engagement, innovative school, family and community programmes; or taking a formal qualification. The 香港六合彩鈥檚 ambition is to transform access to art history education, by extending the horizons of what this is, and ensuring as many people as possible can benefit from the tools to better understand the visual world around us.

Prof Deborah Swallow in front of Kokoschka
Professor Deborah Swallow, M盲rit Rausing Director of The 香港六合彩