Fitzwilliam Museums

New deputy director duo integral to ‘transformational change’ at Fitzwilliam Museum

Karen Livingstone and Neal Spencer will join Cambridge University’s Fitzwilliam Museum in February 2021 as deputy directors. The institution hopes a top table shake-up can help kickstart a period of ‘transformational change’.

The Fitzwilliam has been busy throughout the pandemic, building and launching a new Beta website to public consultation alongside debuting a new series of Art in Lockdown podcasts – with the ambition of broadening and modernising its digital offer.

The appointments of Livingstone and Spencer are considered integral to the organisation’s continued progression, with both expected to play major roles in rejuvenating the site – both as the University of Cambridge’s leading visitor attraction and an international resource.

Karen Livingstone is set to become the museum’s first deputy director for Masterplan, exhibitions & major display projects. This role will see her lead a new division that has ultimate responsibility for the Fitzwilliam’s redevelopment and Masterplan.

Having plotted and delivered Masterplans at each of the five museums in the Science Museum Group, Livingstone is seen as the ideal person to lead the process.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Fitzwilliam Museum at the beginning of a new chapter in its history and to play my part in shaping its future through a Masterplan and reinvigorated exhibition programme,” Livingstone notes. “I am particularly looking forward to getting to know my new colleagues, the collections, and the communities of the University and Cambridge more widely.”

Another new role will be taken on by Dr Neal Spencer, as he becomes deputy director for collections and research. Providing strategic and practical leadership for research and teaching in the Museum alongside the site’s Collections Division will be key to his role, as well as shaping a forward-thinking curatorial vision.

“I am confident we will build upon considerable existing strengths to use the collection and the many stories embedded within it for the benefit of diverse audiences across Cambridge, the UK and internationally,” says Spencer, who joins from the British Museum.

The newly appointed duo will link up with an executive team which includes Luke Syson, director of the Fitzwilliam, and Kate Carreno, who will assume the new role of deputy director for public engagement and partnerships after having led the museum’s Central Services, Operations and Engagement Divisions for over a decade.

“In these difficult days, it is really good to be planning a Fitz for the future,” Syson notes. “Karen and Neal will be key to the success of all our research, display and building projects, working with a great collection and a terrific team, to make a museum that is already remarkable a truly extraordinary one.”

The Museum is currently also recruiting a new deputy director, operations.