Nicholas Serota

Nicholas Serota to Step Down as Director of Tate

After twenty-eight years, Nicholas Serota will step down as director of the Tate in 2017 and will join the Arts Council as chairman in February. In a statement, the Tate said that the search for new leadership will begin immediately.

During his transformational term, Serota oversaw the opening of Tate Modern in 2000 and Tate St. Ives in 1993. He has strived to strengthen the role of the Tate as a national institution through the further development of Tate Liverpool and by establishing partnerships with galleries across the country through the Plus Tate initiative, which comprises thirty-five institutions. He grew the Tate’s collection, which acquired works by Bacon, Beuys, Bourgeois, Brancusi, Duchamp, Horn, Mondrian, Richter, and Twombly, among many others, and expanded its scope to include photography and performance art. More recently, Tate Modern unveiled its Herzog & de Meuron–designed addition, which Julian Rose examines in the September 2016 issue of Artforum.

Serota said, “It has been an exciting challenge to work with successive chairmen, trustees and groups of extremely talented colleagues to develop the role of Tate in the study, presentation and promotion of British, modern and international art.” He added, “Over the past thirty years there has been a sea-change in public appreciation of the visual arts in this country. Tate is proud to have played a part in this transformation alongside other national and regional museums and the new galleries that have opened across the country in places like Walsall, Margate, Wakefield, Gateshead, and Nottingham.”

Born in London in 1946, Serota began his career at the institution as the chairman of the new Young Friends of the Tate. In 1970, he joined the Arts Council of Great Britain’s Visual Arts Department as a regional art officer and worked as a curator at Hayward Gallery. At the age of twenty-seven, he was named director of the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford. In 1976, he joined the Whitechapel Gallery as director and would remain at the helm of the organization for twelve years. Serota cocurated the exhibition “A New Spirit in Painting” (1981) at the Royal Academy in London, with Norman Rosenthal and Christos Joachimides, and in 1988 he succeeded Alan Bowness as director of the Tate.