V&A museum takes on Tristram Hunt as director

Hunt has changed career paths, resigning from his role as a Labour Party MP to become the London Victoria and Albert museum’s new director.

On the far right: Tristram Hunt MP, courtesy of Flickr user CentreforCities
On the far right: Tristram Hunt MP, courtesy of Flickr user CentreforCities

The Victoria and Albert (V&A) museum has appointed Tristram Hunt as its new director, as he resigns from his political role as a Labour Party MP.

Hunt has served as a Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central since 2010, and was also previously the Shadow Secretary of State and Shadow Minister for Education.

The Labour Party is yet to confirm at the time of publishing the reason for Hunt’s resignation from his role as an MP, but he has allegedly previously been critical of the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn, The Guardian reports. There will now be a byelection in his Stoke constituency to replace him.

In response to his resignation, Corbyn says: “I would like to thank Tristram Hunt for his service to the people of Stoke-on-Trent Central and to the Labour Party. I wish him well in his future role at the V&A.”

Hunt replaces Tim Reeve, who has been acting director of the V&A since October 2016. Before this, Martin Roth was director of the V&A. Roth left his post of five years, after reportedly expressing dismay at the Brexit vote.

A lecturer and broadcaster in history

Aside from politics, Hunt has a background in journalism and history. He has written history books based on the 18th and 19th centuries, and has worked as a broadcaster for BBC and Channel 4 history documentaries on subjects such as the English Civil War and Isaac Newton. He lectures on modern British history at Queen Mary University of London, and is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Background in arts and culture

He also has a background in arts and culture, having founded the Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival in 2013, curated the Mayor of London’s History Festival, and is a patron of the British Ceramics Biennial.

He was also previously a trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the National Heritage Memorial Fund, which provide funding for and preserve heritage and culture in the UK.

“I have loved the V&A since I was a boy”

A spokesperson at the V&A says: “[Hunt] brings widespread expertise across education, industry and politics to the V&A, and a keen awareness of the important role of major public institutions in the UK, having been at the forefront of political, cultural and public life for the last decade.”

V&A chairman Nicholas Coleridge adds: “He has a highly compelling mixture of experience across public life, the arts, history, education and academia, and knows our collections well from his writing and broadcasting.”

Hunt himself says he is “delighted” to take on the role of V&A director, and that he has “loved the [museum] since [he] was a boy”.

“It is a moment of transformation and renewal for the V&A with the upcoming opening of the new Exhibition Road entrance, and new sites and galleries in Dundee, China and Stratford,” he says. “I am honoured to take on this exciting opportunity.”

Alice Black, co-director at The Design Museum, says Hunt’s appointment will bring “fresh thinking to the table”, alongside the recent appointment of Maria Balshaw as the Tate’s director-elect. “We look forward to continuing to work with the V&A and Tristram to break new ground for design,” she says.

Hunt will join the museum in the coming months.

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