City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

New Director of Scottish National Portrait Gallery


By Editor - Posted on 16 May 2012

Christopher Baker by  Chris Watt

The Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland yesterday announced the appointment of Christopher Baker as the new Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.  He will take up his position at the Portrait Gallery on 1 August 2012.  His selection followed an international search led by the recruitment company Odgers Berndtson. 

Mr Baker has been Deputy Director of the Scottish National Gallery since 2003 and was previously Curator at Christ Church Picture Gallery in Oxford.  He enjoys an international reputation as a scholar-curator and has organised some of the Scottish National Gallery’s most successful exhibitions, such as The Discovery of Spain and Turner and Italy (both 2009), and written the Gallery’s permanent collection catalogue of English Drawings and Watercolours 1600-1900 (2011).  He sits on advisory boards at the University of St Andrews and the National Gallery, London, and has contributed to numerous art historical publications, including The Burlington Magazine.

John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland said: “This vacancy was hotly contested by a strong field of candidates from this country and from abroad.  Christopher Baker has an extremely impressive record as a curator and a manager who has combined scholarly depth with a broad popular appeal in his work for the Galleries.  We are delighted that he has emerged as the outstanding leader to build on the recent successes of the newly-re-opened Portrait Gallery.”

Ben Thomson, Chairman of the Trustees of NGS said: “It is a hard act for anyone to follow James Holloway who transformed the Portrait Gallery and made it into one of Scotland’s best-loved cultural institutions.  The Board is confident that Christopher will be an inspiring new leader for the Gallery who with freshness and vigour will be able to build on our aspirations for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery to be at the centre of Scotland’s heritage.”

In his current position, Mr Baker works with colleagues across the NGS on many aspects of the management of the National Gallery and the care and presentation of its outstanding collection and the buildings that house it.  He has had specific responsibility for the Gallery’s Drawings and Print Collection and the promotion of it through research and displays.

Commenting on his new position, Christopher Baker said: “The Scottish National Portrait Gallery has been brilliantly re-developed and it is a privilege to be given the opportunity to work with a much-admired national institution and such an outstanding and wide-ranging collection on the next stage of its development.”

Career of Christopher Baker

  • 1985-88 B.A. History/History of Art, 2i, University of York
  • 1988-89  Dip. A.G.M.S. Post-Graduate Diploma (Art Gallery and Museum Studies), University of Manchester
  • 1989-95  Researcher, The National Gallery, London.
    Co-author of The Complete Illustrated Catalogue of the National Gallery’s Collection (1995)
  • 1995-97 Part-time Lecturer, Birkbeck College, London University
  • 1997-2003 Curator, Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford.
    Co-editor of Collecting Prints and Drawings in Europe, c.1500-1800 (2003)
  • 2003-12 Deputy Director and Chief Curator, The Scottish National Gallery.
    Visiting Fellow, The Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, USA (2005)
    Author of J.M.W.Turner: The Vaughan Bequest (2006)
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