Sandy Nairne

Sandy Nairne to step down as director of National Portrait Gallery

Rebecca Atkinson, 13.06.2014
Director to pursue writing and advisory work
Sandy Nairne is to step down as director of the National Portrait Gallery in London next February to pursue his writing and advisory work.

He has held the position for 12 years, and has seen visitor attendance rise by a third to reach two million in 2012.

“It has been a great privilege to lead such a special institution as the National Portrait Gallery, and I am very proud of what we have achieved over the past decade,” Nairne said.

“The fact that two million visitors now come each year to visit exhibitions, take part in activities or see displays of this amazing collection in London, as well as around the country or online, is testimony to the dedication of all who work at the gallery and those who support it in so many different ways. The gallery is in very good shape and will go from strength to strength.”

William Proby, chairman of the trustees of the National Portrait Gallery, said Nairne would be missed: “He has significantly increased visitor numbers, put on some wonderful exhibitions, such as Lucian Freud Portraits, and overseen many major commissions and acquisitions, including the Van Dyck self-portrait this year.”

Nairne has previously worked at Tate as director of programmes, and at the Arts Council of Great Britain, the Institute of Contemporary Arts and the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford.

He has published several books, including Art Theft and the Case of the Stolen Turners in 2011 and 21st Century Portraits in 2013 with Sarah Howgate. In 1987, he wrote Channel 4’s documentary series State of the Art.