Tim Marlow / Cat Garcia

Tim Marlow announced as head of Design Museum

Yosola Olorunshola, 09.10.2019
RA’s artistic director to replace co-directors Deyan Sudjic and Alice Black
Tim Marlow, current artistic director of the Royal Academy of Arts (RA), will be the new chief executive and director of the Design Museum.

Marlow will replace the current co-directors, Deyan Sudjic and Alice Black, who announced last week that they would step down at the end of January 2020.

Since joining the RA in 2014, Marlow has overseen exhibitions including Ai Weiwei (2015), Dali/ Duchamp (2017) and Antony Gormley (2019). He was previously director of exhibitions at London’s White Cube gallery for more than 10 years.

“I’m both excited and honoured by the prospect of leading the Design Museum into the next chapter of its relatively brief but already illustrious history,” Marlow said.

“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.”

Celebrating its 30th birthday this year, the Design Museum has seen a significant increase in visitor numbers under the leadership of Sudjic and Black. The pair oversaw the museum’s move from Shad Thames to its current home in Kensington – an £82m capital redevelopment project. The museum’s summer show, Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition (2019), was its most successful exhibition yet, attracting 170,000 visitors.

“Having established the Design Museum in its new home, after record visitors this year, I am now ready for a new challenge,” Black said.

Sudjic, who will continue to work with the museum under the title of director emeritus, said: “We have shown that design can change the world, and that the Design Museum has changed design. Now I want to see where design is going next.”

The museum has not been without controversy since it moved to its new home. Last year, it was forced to return a third of the works on display in its Hope to Nope exhibition after hosting a private event for defence and arms company Leonardo. A group of almost 40 artists signed an open letter, describing the museum as “hypocritical” and demanding their work be removed.

At the time, the museum committed to reviewing its events hire policy, but said it was in line with other major cultural organisations.