Attractions industry news

06 Jun 2019

Natural History Museum seeks new director after Sir Michael Dixon announces retirement date

Sir Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum in London, is bringing his 15-year tenure to an end, after announcing that he will retire from the role on 31 March 2021, having overseen the first year of the museum's new Strategy to 2031.

A committee of trustees has been appointed to identify Sir Michael's successor, with the intention of them joining the museum as director designate in late 2020. Chair of the Board Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint will lead the search committee.

Lord Green paid tribute to Sir Michael's achievements, pointing out that under his leadership the museum had doubled its visitor numbers to 5.5 million per year, as well as developing its global relationships and scientific expertise to tackle major scientific challenges such as biodiversity loss, the spread of diseases and the supply of scarce minerals.

"As guardian for our globally-important collection of more than 80 million specimens, Sir Michael has made mass digitisation and open access images and data a priority, enabling everyone from schoolchildren to specialists to draw on this great global resource. The Board is grateful to him for these and his many other significant achievements as director of the museum."

During his tenure, Sir Michael has overseen the museum's biggest capital development in decades, with the opening of the Darwin Centre in 2010. In 2017, the newly reimagined Hintze Hall was reopened, complete with Hope the blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling.

Major touring exhibitions have included Dippy – the museum's much-loved diplodocus cast – breaking all attendance records during a three-year tour of the UK, and Treasures of the Natural World showing in Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and Canada.

The Natural History Museum has coordinated the Synthesys+ initiative to create a European-wide collections infrastructure and has played a leading role in the DeWorms3 project to combat neglected tropical diseases caused by parasitic worms in Africa and Asia.

Sir Michael was knighted in 2014 for services to museums. He joined the Natural History Museum in 2004 after four years as director general of the Zoological Society of London. Before that, he spent 20 years in the scientific, technical and medical publishing industry.

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