Director Penelope Curtis Quits Tate Britain After Tempestuous Five Years

Penelope Curtis

Penelope Curtis is to step down as Director of Tate Britain. She will take up a new position as Director, at the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon, a leading Portuguese gallery, which holds 6,000 important works accumulated by the Armenian oil magnate Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian.

It has been a tempestuous five year job for one of the most powerful women in the ‘Art World’ after she faced heavy criticism from the UK art press. Curtis, was appointed director in 2010 and oversaw the successful refurbishment and rehanging of works at Tate Britain. It is difficult to know whether she left the position or was pressured to leave after negative feedback about direction and curation at the gallery. 

“I want to keep all that is good about the museum, which I admire deeply, while developing ways in which it can make more of its context and position,” Curtis said about her new position.

Penelope Curtis joined the Tate Gallery in Liverpool as Exhibitions Curator in 1988. In 1994 she moved to the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, where as curator, she was responsible for a programme of historical and contemporary sculpture exhibitions, collections building in sculpture and archives, and research activity including events, fellowships and publications. She has written widely on 20th-century British sculpture, on European art and architecture of the inter-war years, and on many contemporary sculptors including Thomas Schütte, Gerard Byrne and Isa Genzken. She is author of Sculpture 1900-1945: After Rodin (OUP, 1999) and Patio and Pavilion: The place of sculpture in Modern Architecture(Ridinghouse, 2007).

Photo: © Artlyst 2014