Financial Times design and architecture critic Alice Rawsthorn has been appointed director of the Design Museum and will take up the role on 17 April.
Rawsthorn replaces Paul Thompson, who left on 6 February. She has been a Design Museum trustee since 1992 and deputy chairman since 1999. She hopes to increase the media profile and public awareness of the museum and make it “busier and buzzier”, she says.
“I am keen to introduce more ambitious, imaginative events such as the Bauhaus exhibition,” Rawsthorn says. Last year’s Bauhaus Dessau exhibition examined the design and construction of the school.
“The Design Museum should be doing what [New York’s] Museum of Modern Art does: identifying and defining emerging design themes. It should be less reactive and more proactive.”
She is hoping to lift the profile of the museum within the design community by launching talks, events and improving the website. “I want to liven things up and, longer term, generate more debate,” she adds.
Rawsthorn says her journalism background should be helpful in raising the media profile of the museum. She will continue to write for the FT and contribute to Radio 4’s Saturday Review and Front Row programmes.
Chairman of trustees James Dyson says Rawsthorn has a deep understanding of design and architecture and its role in the industry. “After long associations with the Whitechapel Art Gallery, Design Council and Design Museum, Rawsthorn’s directorship should be exciting,” he says.
Rawsthorn succeeds Thompson, who left after 12 years to become director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York (DW 2 October 2000). Vanessa Swann will be acting director until Rawsthorn assumes the position.