V&A director Martin Roth steps down

Martin Roth, director of the Victoria and Albert museum, has announced he will be leaving his role this year after reportedly expressing dismay at the UK’s Brexit vote in June.

Martin Roth, current director at V&A © Thierry Bal
Martin Roth, current director at V&A © Thierry Bal

Director of the V&A Martin Roth, who set up the museum’s design, architecture and digital department, has announced that he will stand down from his post this year.

61-year-old Roth leaves after five years doing the job, and was behind many of the museum’s most successful exhibitions including David Bowie is and Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.

His tenure also saw the museum’s highest ever recorded visitor number of 3.3 million in 2014.

“We will have to get used to living without European funds”

Roth leaves his post after reportedly telling German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle in June that the UK’s vote to leave the European Union was a “personal defeat”.

On how the decision would affect the cultural sector, he said: “On a national level, we will have to get used to living without European funds. That will especially affect research.”

He added that he felt affected “on an ideological level more than an economic one”, and that the phase of exiting the EU would be “horrible”.

The V&A was unable to confirm at the time of publishing whether Brexit played a part in Roth’s decision to step down, but says there are “various reasons” for his departure.

“A significant contribution” to the museum’s success

Roth, who was born in Germany, was previously president of the German Museums Association, and before that held director and curator roles at various science and history museums in Germany.

Roth himself says: “It’s been an enormous privilege and tremendously exciting to lead this great museum…Our recent accolade as Art Fund Museum of the Year feels like the perfect moment to draw to a close my mission in London and hand over to a new director to take the V&A forward to an exciting future.”

He is set to step down this autumn, and the V&A’s board of trustees is currently seeking a new director.

Nicholas Coleridge, chairman of the trustees of the V&A, adds: “Martin’s tenure as director has been marked by a highly successful period of creativity, expansion and re-organisation of the V&A. He has made a significant contribution to the success of this museum.”

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