Alistair Hudson appointed Director of Manchester Art Gallery and Whitworth

The University of Manchester and Manchester City Council have named Alistair Hudson, currently Director of the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima), as the new Director of Manchester Art Gallery and the University of Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery

Hudson succeeds Maria Balshaw at the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery following her appointment as Director of Tate earlier this year and will take up his new role in the New Year.

The University of Manchester says he brings a wealth of experience at the forefront of the culture sector and a strong record of championing art as a tool for social change and education. During the past three years as Director at mima, he set out the institution’s vision as a ‘Useful Museum’, successfully engaging its local communities and responding to the town’s industrial heritage, as well as placing it amongst the most prestigious galleries in the UK.

“I am completely thrilled to be taking up this post in Manchester,” he said. “The city’s cultural scene is one of the most dynamic and diverse in the country and Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth are at the heart of this. Maria Balshaw and her teams have established both institutions at the forefront of the democratisation of art, working for all of society. I look forward to driving this mission forward and working across the region in projects that have real impact in people’s lives.”

Hudson began his career at the Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London (1994-2000), before joining The Government Art Collection (2000-04) where, as Projects Curator, he devised a public art strategy for the new Home Office building with Liam Gillick.

As Deputy Director of Grizedale Arts (2004-14) in the Lake District, he helped the institution gain critical acclaim for its radical approaches to working with artists and communities, based on the idea that art should be useful and not just an object of contemplation.

The dual directorship role, says the university, reflects the unique partnership over the past five years between The University of Manchester and Manchester City Council that has brought the two institutions and Manchester’s historic and modern art collections into complementary alliance.

“The Whitworth is a hugely important cultural asset for the University and for the many thousands of visitors from the local community and further afield who use it every year,” said Professor James Thompson, Vice-President for Social Responsibility at The University of Manchester. “Alistair is dedicated to the idea of cultural institutions as a force for promoting social change, and this fits precisely with the mission of the Whitworth. We are delighted that he will be leading the gallery into the next phase of its development.”