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Axel Rüger.

Axel Rűger Appointed Chief Executive of London’s Royal Academy of Arts

The Royal Academy of Arts in London announced today that Axel Rϋger, the director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, has been named its new secretary and chief executive. He succeeds Charles Saumarez Smith, who stepped down at the end of 2018, and will take up the post in June 2019.

“Axel is the perfect fit,” Christopher Le Brun, president of the Academy, said. “His success at the Van Gogh Museum is highly acclaimed, and he is widely acknowledged as one of the leading directors of his generation. His experience, both in the UK and abroad, makes him ideally suited to work alongside our distinguished Royal Academicians and staff in guiding the RA towards a highly promising future and I am very much looking forward to working with him.”

Rϋger spent his early career in museums in the US before serving as the curator of Dutch paintings, 1600–1800, at the National Gallery in London from 1999 to 2006. That same year, he became the director of the Van Gogh Museum. During his tenure, he oversaw the building of a new conservation studio and an entrance hall; initiatives such as the popular Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience, a traveling exhibition of digital projections on the artist’s life and work; the acquisition of new pieces; and numerous shows, including “Van Gogh and the Colours of the Night” (2009), “Munch: Van Gogh” (2015), and “Hockney – Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature” (2019).

Commenting on his appointment, Rϋger said: “Following the 250th anniversary and the RA’s recent expansion, it feels like the Academy is now ready to embark on a new and exhilarating chapter in its rich history. I am excited about the opportunity to join at this critical moment and to work to tell great stories through ambitious and varied exhibitions, innovative programs and debate and, more generally, to make the RA, its activities and collections ever more accessible to audiences from around the globe.”

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