Esme Ward becomes first female director of Manchester Museum
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Esme Ward becomes first female director of Manchester Museum

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Manchester+Museum'>Manchester Museum has announced the appointment of a new director, marking the first woman to hold the position in the institution’s 125-year history.

Esme Ward, who will take over from outgoing director Nick Merriman on 9 April, said: “I am thrilled to be appointed the new director of Manchester Museum. The vision to use its collections to promote understanding between cultures and a sustainable world could not be more timely or relevant.

“I am hugely excited to lead the museum at this critical time, build upon its excellent work to date and realise its potential as the UK’s most inclusive, imaginative and caring museum," she added.

Ward is head of learning and engagement at Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery – both of which are part of the University of Manchester. As well as teaching up to postgraduate level, she has forged a career in the sector by prioritising inclusive initiatives and reaching out to people less likely to visit museums including young people and people living with dementia.

Her programmes have included Babies in Museums, Culture Shots (a series of museum-run events in hospitals) and Manchester Museum’s Inflatable Museum.

Ward started at the Whitworth as education officer in 1998 before progressing to her current engagement role in 2010. She was part of the team under former Whitworth director Maria Balshawwho is now director of the Tate – which oversaw a major transformation of the gallery three years ago. The renovation by architectural firm MUMA helped the Whitworth win Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2015.

“I am absolutely delighted that we have appointed the first woman director of Manchester Museum,” said Professor James Thompson, vice president for social responsibility at the University of Manchester. “Esme will bring vision and innovation to the Museum, continuing its excellent work with academics, students and its commitment to engagement with diverse local, national and international communities.”

Visitor numbers have been increasing at Manchester Museum, surpassing the half-a-million mark for the first time in 2017. The attraction is the UK’s largest university museum with 4.5 million artefacts.

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Manchester Museum has announced the appointment of a new director, marking the first woman to hold the position in the institution’s 125-year history.
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