Karin Hindsbo, the director of Norway’s recently opened National Museum, was on Friday named the new director of Tate Modern in London, one of the world’s most popular museums.
Hindsbo, a Danish-born art historian, will take on the role in September, replacing Frances Morris, who has led Tate Modern since 2016. Last October, Morris announced she was leaving to focus on curatorial projects, and to work on addressing the art world’s climate impacts.
In a news release, Hindsbo, 49, said she was “beyond excited” to make the move, adding that “some of my greatest experiences encountering art” occurred at the museum, housed in a former power station on the bank of the River Thames.
The directorship of Tate Modern is one of the European art world’s highest-profile roles, with the museum expected to regularly stage blockbuster exhibitions of contemporary and modern art. Under Morris’s leadership, it’s hosted acclaimed shows including a sold-out Cézanne retrospective, a career-spanning exhibition of the British artist Steve McQueen’s video pieces and an exploration of work by African American artists during the civil rights era.
Some 4.4 million people visited Tate Modern in the past year, a spokesman said. Only the Louvre, the Vatican Museums and the British Museum attracted more tourists in 2022, according to a survey by The Art Newspaper.
A trained art historian, Hindsbo ran art museums across Scandinavia, including Kode in Bergen, Norway, before becoming the director of the country’s new National Museum in 2017, with a remit to oversee its opening. The museum has a collection of over 400,000 objects including the most famous version of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” works by Indigenous Sami artists and medieval tapestries.
While the National Museum was under construction, Hindsbo was criticized in Norwegian newspapers for her managerial style, her purchasing decisions and delays to the building’s opening. In an interview with The New York Times last year, Hindsbo said that, given her Danish identity, the pushback around her “could have been much worse.” The museum opened last June to positive reviews, and has since attracted over 1.3 million visitors.
Maria Balshaw, the director of Tate, the British museum group that includes Tate Modern, said in the news release that Hindsbo’s successful steering of the complex project was “testament to her skill as a leader.”
“I know Karin will bring vision, creativity and a spirit of artistic ambition that will enable us to continue reaching new heights,” Balshaw said.
The change of leadership comes at a potentially challenging moment for Tate Modern. Its visitor numbers are still far below those achieved before the coronavirus pandemic (almost 6 million art lovers visited in 2018), while Britain’s government — which subsidizes Tate Modern — has been cutting funding for some of London’s major arts bodies.
The new director will also have to cope with the fallout of a recent legal case. In February, Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that Tate Modern’s top-floor viewing platform, a popular tourist attraction, was a “a clear case of nuisance” as it allowed visitors to stare into neighboring luxury apartments. Tate may have to pay the residents compensation, or shutter part of the platform, to resolve the dispute, the court said.
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