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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 18:08 GMT
Portrait man for National
The National Gallery is one of the UK's best known art institutions
The National Gallery is one of the UK's best known art institutions
The National Gallery has appointed Dr Charles Saumarez Smith as its new director to replace the outgoing Neil MacGregor.

Prime Minister Tony Blair approved the appointment of Dr Saumarez Smith, who was director of the National Portrait Gallery, which is next door to the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, central London.

During his time as director of the Portrait Gallery, annual visitor numbers doubled to 1.3 million. He oversaw the refurbishment of the top floor galleries and the opening of the Ondaatje Wing nearly two years ago.


I look forward to maintaining its traditions and facing the challenges of its future

Dr Charles Saumarez Smith
Mr MacGregor is leaving his post to take over as head of the British Museum.

Dr Saumarez Smith said he was delighted with his appointment.

He said: "As a neighbour of the National Gallery for the last eight years, I have greatly admired the range and quality of its exhibitions, the effectiveness of its corporate governance and Neil's inspirational leadership.

"I look forward to maintaining its traditions and facing the challenges of its future."

"I wish to pay a particular tribute to the staff of the National Portrait Gallery who have been exceptionally hard-working, friendly and supportive. I will miss them."

Neil MacGregor
Neil MacGregor is moving to the British Museum
He has been at the helm at the National Portrait Gallery since 1994, and before that he worked at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Educated at King's College, Cambridge, he went on to gain a Henry Fellowship at Harvard University and his PhD at London University.

He will take up his new job later in the year.

Legacy

Peter Scott, chairman of the trustees of the National Gallery, said there had been a strong field of candidates to choose from, but he was confident they had got the right man.

"Dr Saumarez Smith will steer the gallery in its continued efforts to acquire great pictures for the nation, help it to build on its high reputation for scholarship, while developing imaginative ways to present the collection to the widest possible audience," said Mr Scott.

"He will lead the project to renew the east side of the gallery's historic building."

Sir David Scholey, chairman of the trustees of the NPG, said he was sad to see Dr Saumarez Smith go.

He said: "Charles's legacy to his successor will be a superb professional and physical basis for the continuing success of the Portrait Gallery."

Sir David added that a decision on who will replace Dr Saumarez Smith will be discussed at the next meeting of the trustees in May.

See also:

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