Change in leadership at Wellcome and Ironbridge
Geraldine Kendall Adams, 01.07.2019
Melanie Keen and Nick Ralls appointed to top jobs
Two of the UK's world-leading institutions - the Wellcome Collection in London and Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust - will soon be under new leadership.
Melanie Keen has been appointed as the director of the Wellcome Collection and will take up the role this autumn.
In her current role as the director and chief curator of the Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva), Keen oversaw the institute's relocation to the Chelsea campus of the University of the Arts London.
Keen’s career in the cultural sector spans 20 years. Before joining Iniva, she was an independent curator and consultant. She has also been a senior relationship manager at Arts Council England.
Keen recently sat on the committee that oversaw the commission of Gillian Wearing’s statue of the suffragist Millicent Fawcett on Parliament Square. She was also on the selection committee for the British Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale.
Keen will take over from Simon Chaplin, who will continue in his role as the Wellcome Trust’s director of culture and society, which incorporates the Wellcome Collection in its portfolio.
Describing the role as a "once in a lifetime opportunity", Keen said: “I am truly thrilled to be taking on the role of director at such an exciting moment in this organisation’s development.”
Chaplin said: “[Keen’s] skills, experience and insight will help us build Wellcome Collection into a world-leading museum and library that challenges how we think and feel about health by connecting science, medicine, life and art.”
Meanwhile, Nick Ralls has been appointed as the chief executive of Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust in Shropshire. Ralls is returning to the museum sector after spending 12 years as the general manager of Severn Valley Railway, a heritage railway and tourist attraction. He previously had roles at Aston Hall and Blakesley Manor, both part of Birmingham Museums Trust.
During his time at Severn Valley Railway, Ralls oversaw a significant repair and restoration of the railway following extensive flooding in 2007. He also saw the opening of the Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley and played a key role in bringing the Flying Scotsman to the railway in 2016.
Ralls takes over from Anna Brennand, who stepped down from the organisation in April to take on a new role at the Cabrach Trust in Scotland.
Ironbridge Gorge is a World Heritage Site, and the museum trust is responsible for 10 attractions dedicated to industrial heritage in the area.