New director appointed to lead V&A Dundee’s ‘awakening’ from lockdown

V&A Dundee has appointed a new director to lead its “awakening” from lockdown into a new era.

Leonie Bell takes over from founding director Philip Long, who left the design museum to become chief executive of the National Trust for Scotland.

Ms Bell is currently strategic lead for the Future Paisley Partnership at Renfrewshire Council, heading its cultural regeneration plans following its UK City of Culture bid.

Her previous roles include programme director at The Lighthouse in Glasgow, as well as head of culture strategy and engagement at the Scottish Government and director of arts and engagement at Creative Scotland.

Ms Bell said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed director of V&A Dundee. I am looking forward to working with the board, the team, the museum’s partners and the people of Dundee to further establish V&A Dundee as a world-class design museum for Scotland.

“Like so many, I have watched V&A Dundee flourish in its first two years and it is a huge privilege to lead the museum into its next phase.

“V&A Dundee is an emblem of the city’s design and industrial heritage and a bright beacon for its future. The spectacular building is situated on one of the most beautiful estuaries and in one of UK’s most ambitious and creative cities.

“The museum celebrates the designed world and through its programme it enriches and inspires, drawing people in and reaching out across Dundee, Scotland and the world.

“Its role now is greater than ever. The way we live, work, gather, communicate, share, learn and play is changing.”

Her previous roles also include leading Scotland’s national cultural programmes for the London 2012 Olympics and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

She chairs the advisory board of Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art and is a trustee of the Edinburgh International Festival.

Ms Bell will take up her new post in Dundee in the autumn.

Tim Allan, chair of V&A Dundee’s board, said: “We are delighted that Leonie has accepted this leading role at V&A Dundee, leading its awakening from the Covid-19 lockdown into a new era.

V&A Dundee
The V&A Dundee first opened in September 2018 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“She is a very experienced, charismatic leader with a passionate background in design and what it can do for communities and places as well as enhancing our position in the world.

“Leonie was born in Dundee and grew up in nearby Fife. She has real authenticity, knowledge, energy and understanding of the museum, its importance to Dundee and Scotland, and of the cultural sector in Scotland and the UK.”

V&A Dundee opened on September 15, 2018 and welcomed one million visitors in its first 500 days.

Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “I congratulate Leonie Bell on her appointment as director.

“She brings excellent cultural leadership to V&A Dundee in its next phase of development and the Scottish Government looks forward to working with her.”

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