Design Museum appoints Tim Marlow as new chief executive and director

Marlow replaces Deyan Sudjic and Alice Black, the museum’s co-directors for 12 years.

Tim Marlow, photo courtesy of Cat Garcia

Tim Marlow has been appointed as the new chief executive and director of the Design Museum.

Marlow is currently artistic director of the Royal Academy of Arts (RA), where he has been since 2014, working on exhibitions like Ai Weiwei in 2015 and Antony Gormley (2019). Before the RA, Marlow was director of exhibitions at London’s White Cube gallery for over ten years.

Marlow will take up the position in January 2020. He says he is “excited and honoured by the prospect of leading the Design Museum into the next chapter of its relatively brief but illustrious history.”

“The opportunity to build on the impressive work that the museum and its staff have already done in promoting the central importance of design and architecture in shaping our world is phenomenal,” he adds.

Lord Mandelson, the museum’s chairman, says: “Design is central to Britain’s future story and Tim has the opportunity to make the museum a big part of how we move forward.”

Last week, Deyan Sudjic and Alice Black stepped down as co-directors of the museum. Sudjic was appointed director in 2006, while Black became a co-director in 2016. During that period, they oversaw its move from its Shad Thames building to Kensington, which cost £82m.

The museum turned 30 this year and in the past three years has attracted more than 1.9m visitors. This year, the museum staged a Stanley Kubrick retrospective — which drew 170,000 visitors — and its 2019 Designs of the Year offers a “rebuke of stereotypical design”.

The museum has not been without its controversies though. Last year, it hosted a private event by defence and arms company Leonardo, which resulted in backlash and criticism. Many of the exhibitors pulled their work from the Hope to Nope exhibition, which was being run at the same time, and was an attempt to showcase the work of “radical, anti-corporate artists and activists”. A group of designers, artists and activists wrote to the museum calling the private event “deeply hypocritical”.

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