Caro Howell MBE appointed Director-General of Imperial War Museums

Image: Caro Howell (© Wilkie Branson)

The current Director of The Foundling Museum will take over the role in May 2023.

Imperial War Museums has announced its next Director-General, who will take over from Dame Diane Lees next year.

Caro Howell MBE will become IWM’s Director-General in May 2023, its Board of Trustees has announced. Lees will remain in post until March 2023.

Howell is currently the Director of The Foundling Museum and has over 20 years’ experience in museum leadership roles, and brings expertise in gallery education, audience development and delivering major capital projects.

She was previously Head of Education & Public Events at the Whitechapel Gallery, and oversaw the development of major new education spaces and project galleries.

As part of Tate Modern’s set-up team, Howell formulated its audience development strategy and developed London’s first peer-led museum programme for 15–23- year-olds.

Howell also Co-Chairs the Women Leaders in Museums Network and is an advisor to several museums and arts organisations. Earlier this year, Howell was awarded an MBE for services to museums.

The recruitment process, guided by IWM’s Board of Trustees, was made with a formal appointment by PM Rishi Sunak.

The interview panel consisted of Trustees and external representatives from DCMS and the museums and heritage sector.

Howell said Lees’ leadership “has transformed the ways in which conflict and its impact are explored.

“Like the Foundling Museum, stories are at IWM’s heart. At a time when the war in Ukraine is impacting the lives of millions around the world, IWM’s mission could not be more vital. I look forward to developing its reputation for reaching new audiences across all its sites, through bold, inclusive and global storytelling.”

Matthew Westerman, Chair of IWM’s Board of Trustees said Howell was the “ideal candidate” and “has significant experience in museum leadership and has a proven track-record in developing and delivering organisational vision and mission, as well as successfully leading on major capital projects.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “I congratulate Caro Howell on her appointment. She brings a wealth of experience to the role and is well placed to continue Diane Lees’ excellent legacy. We look forward to working with her and supporting the important work of this public institution.”

Both Howell and Lees serve as judges at the Museums + Heritage Awards, which is now open for 2023 entries.