Martin Roth to leave V&A after five years – BBC News

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Duchess of Cambridge presented Mr Roth with The Art Fund’s Museum of the Year prize

The Victoria & Albert Museum’s director Martin Roth is to step down after five years in charge.

Under Mr Roth, the V&A has been named museum of the year, achieved record visitor numbers and had hit exhibitions on David Bowie and Alexander McQueen.

But the German-born director has voiced his concerns about the future after the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

In July, he told the BBC the referendum result had worried him, saying it “feels like skiing in very thick fog”.

He added that he had received letters from potential funders “asking if we can put things on hold”.

‘More cultural barriers’

Before the referendum, he told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle that, as a German growing up after World War Two, he viewed Europe as being “synonymous with peace”.

Mr Roth said: “For me, Europe always gave hope for a peaceful future, based on sharing, solidarity and tolerance.

“Dropping out always means creating cultural barriers and that worries me.”

Asked whether he believed he would have been given the V&A job if the vacancy had arisen after a Brexit vote, he replied: “I’d probably still be offered a job, but the question is rather, would that job still be as attractive in such a context?”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption More than 300,000 people saw the David Bowie exhibition at the V&A in 2013

Mr Roth arrived at the V&A in September 2011 from the Dresden State Art Collections.

A record 3.9 million people visited the V&A last year and it won the Art Fund’s 100,000 Museum of the Year prize.

Mr Roth has also overseen the renovation of a number of galleries as well as the building of a 49m extension, which is due to open early next year, and an 80m offshoot in Dundee, which should open in 2018.

A major exhibition about the 1960s opens this weekend at its South Kensington headquarters, while the museum has just revealed it will follow up the success of its spotlight on Bowie with an exhibition dedicated to Pink Floyd.

‘Exciting future’

Announcing his departure, Mr Roth said: “It’s been an enormous privilege and tremendously exciting to lead this great museum, with its outstanding staff and collections, and I’m proud to have steered it to new successes and a period of growth and expansion, including new partnerships around the UK and internationally.

“Our recent accolade as Art Fund Museum of the Year feels like the perfect moment to draw to a close my mission in London and hand over to a new director to take the V&A forward to an exciting future.”

Nicholas Coleridge, chairman of trustees at the museum, said Mr Roth’s tenure “has been marked by a highly successful period of creativity, expansion and reorganisation”.

The V&A said Mr Roth “intends to devote more time to various international cultural consultancies and plans to spend more time with his wife Harriet and their children, in Berlin and Vancouver”.

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