Dr. Martin Roth the former director of the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) has died age 62. He recently stepped down after five years at the helm. The museum was named museum of the year, under his tenure and the galleries saw record visitor numbers, especially for the David Bowie, Is and Alexander McQueen exhibitions. More than 300,000 people attended the David Bowie exhibition at the V&A in 2013
Martin will be remembered as a man of prodigious energy – Nicholas Coleride Chairman, V&A
The German-born director had aired his concerns over Brexit and was worried about the future of the institution now that the UK voted to leave the European Union. In July, he stated in an interview that 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.”
When 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?”
Mr. Roth was previously at the Dresden State Art Collections. A German curator and academic he was appointed by the museum’s board of trustees and the then Prime Minister David Cameron. Martin Roth was no stranger to overseeing vast amounts of historical decorative arts and will be a welcome addition to the V&A illustrious history of directors which included Sir Roy Strong. When he took the post he said he was “honoured” to be the new director of “the world’s leading museum of art and design”.He replaced Sir Mark Jones, who has led the V&A since 2001 who left the museum to become Master of St Cross College, Oxford. Prof Roth was the chief curator at the German Historical Museum in Berlin and director of the German Hygiene-Museum in Dresden before taking up his current role in 2001.
The V&A stated on their website:
We are extremely saddened to hear that Dr Martin Roth has died. Martin will be remembered as a man of prodigious energy; a Director with a global reputation both within the museum world and beyond; a committed Europhile and cultural ambassador with a philosophical turn of mind, as well as a devoted husband and father.
As Director of the V&A for just over five years, Martin made it his mission to raise the international profile of the Museum, and under his leadership, the V&A was named 2016 Art Fund Museum of the Year. Martin was the impetus behind initiatives such as the V&A’s presence at the Venice Biennale. He was instrumental in the founding of the V&A Research Institute and was closely involved in the expansion of the Museum’s footprint to Dundee and Shekou, as well as recent openings of the European Galleries 1600-1815 and the V&A Exhibition Road Quarter. This, combined with exhibitions such as David Bowie Is, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Disobedient Objects and Engineering the World: Ove Arup, raised the V&A to new heights.
Photo: Courtesy V&A
We will greatly miss Martin, and are profoundly grateful for his considerable contribution to the V&A. – Nicholas Coleridge CBE, Chairman, V&A