Manchester Metropolitan University honorary graduate Dr Maria Balshaw CBE has been named as the next Director of Tate Gallery.
Playing a central role in sustaining and promoting the arts and culture in Manchester, Maria was presented with an honorary Doctor of Arts by Chancellor Lord Mandelson in summer 2016.
She has been Director of the Whitworth Art Gallery since 2006 and in 2011 she also took on the role of Director of Manchester City Galleries.
She has coordinated a challenging programme of historical, modern and contemporary exhibitions across both galleries. The Whitworth won the coveted title of “Museum of the Year” in 2015, following a successful campaign to expand the Gallery led by Maria.
Maria, the first woman to be appointed to the role at the Tate and its 9th director, will take up her new post on 1 June 2017.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Malcolm Press said: “I would like to offer my congratulations to Maria on her new role with the Tate Gallery.
“Maria has been a guiding light for arts and culture in Manchester for many years, helping to shape it into the thriving and dynamic scene that we recognise today. I have no doubt that the Tate will benefit from her visionary leadership much in the same way.
“We were thrilled to be able to present Maria with an honorary Doctor of Arts during our summer graduation ceremonies last year to recognise her outstanding contribution to arts and culture across the region.”
The Whitworth under Maria’s directorship has collaborated with Manchester School of Art for many years.
After receiving the honorary degree, Maria said: “It’s an absolute delight to receive this award from Manchester Metropolitan University – the life of the students at the University makes the city the dynamic, energetic place that it is.
“Part of what makes Manchester so great is the mixture of being an incredibly young city with lots of students and young people. There are diverse communities that make up our city and it’s a world city in the north of England. Then there’s the cultural ecology of the city that has got the infrastructure for every kind of art idea and that makes for a very creative place.
“My advice to graduates is to follow your best and worst ideas and throw yourself into whatever makes your heart sing.”
Tate is now a family of four galleries with over seven million visitors a year: Tate Britain and Tate Modern in London, Tate Liverpool in Merseyside and Tate St Ives in Cornwall. These are part of a wider network of partner institutions – the Plus Tate network – which champion the visual arts across the UK.