New Director-General appointed at National Galleries of Scotland

Image: Anne Lyden (Photo Laura Prieto, National Galleries of Scotland)

The current Interim Co-Director of Collection and Research will become the first female Director-General in its history


National Galleries of Scotland has announced the appointment of Anne Lyden as its new Director-General. Lyden is currentlyInterim Co-Director of Collection and Research, and will become the first female Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland in its history.

Current Director-General, Sir John Leighton, announced in April that he will step down from the role at the end of the year, following a 17-year tenure. Lyden will take up the role on 1 January 2024.

Lyden has held various curatorial positions at the J.Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where she worked from 1995 to 2013, latterly in the role of Associate Curator before joining the National Galleries of Scotland.

As International Photography Curator until 2019 and then Chief Curator, Photography until last year, Lyden curated numerous exhibitions including Coming Clean: Graham Macindoe, A Perfect Chemistry: Photographs by Hill & Adamson, and ARTIST ROOMS—Self Evidence: Photographs by Woodman, Arbus and Mapplethorpe.

In 2022, she became Interim Co-Director of Collection and Research where she led a directorate, overseeing the public programme across three sites and building on several research initiatives to widen accessibility and representation within the collection. She has authored publications on the subject of photography and art.

Benny Higgins, Chair of National Galleries of Scotland Board of Trustees, said Lyden “brings a strong understanding of the national collection and our talented people, together with extensive international experience.”

“Anne’s strong personal values and leadership style, coupled with her knowledge of art, will see us deliver on our strategic commitments and I am looking forward to working with her.”

On her appointment, Lyden said: “It is my great privilege to continue the excellent work led by Sir John and colleagues over the years, most recently the success of the new Scottish galleries at the National.

“I am eager to continue my work with Trustees, colleagues, community partners, audiences, artists, and supporters in realising our plans for the future including The Art Works, our new collections facility in North Edinburgh.”

Outgoing Director-General Sir John Leighton called Lyden “a highly talented curator and leader with a strong commitment to inclusion and diversity.

“She has a compelling vision of the benefits that access to great art can achieve in these volatile times and is the right person to drive forward the National Galleries’ commitment to bringing world-class art to the widest possible audience.”