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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Archived: Director of the Government Art Collection

Ref: 152863


As Director of the GAC, you will also be part of the leadership of the wider Arts, Heritage and Tourism Directorate in DCMS, working alongside career civil servants and Ministers, looking for synergies between the work of the GAC and wider policy work on culture; and contributing to the corporate leadership of the Directorate of 120.

You will be joining a dynamic Government department at an exciting time, providing strong leadership and direction to a team of 17 curators, registrars and technicians and leading the relationship with the GAC Advisory Committee who approve and give advice on acquisitions, and advise on the stewardship of the Collection.

You will have the opportunity to lead on a range of projects, from refreshing or curating the displays for embassies and residencies around the globe (the team are currently working on the new residences in Beijing and Bangkok, for example, and the rehang of the Lutyens designed Ambassador’s residence in Washington DC) to special exhibitions, and increasing public access through loans, digital and making the best use of the new GAC space with its public viewing room and behind the scenes tours.

The GAC have begun a philanthropic partnership with an Anglo-American couple who are sponsoring TenTen. Each year for a decade, the GAC is commissioning an artist to produce a limited edition print. To date, awardees have been Hurvin Anderson, Tacita Dean and Yinka Shonibare. Some from the edition enter the Collection and others are sold to add to the acquisitions budget. You will oversee this project, and other opportunities around philanthropy.

You will have regular engagement with Ministers, senior officials and ambassadors and other certain key teams, for example at No 10.

Job description

Acquisitions & Curation: 

  • Setting direction of acquisition policy and making proposals of artworks for approval by the Advisory Committee on the Government Art Collection
  • Leading the curation and selection of displays from the Collection with ministers, diplomats and senior civil servants, and occasionally overseeing the installation of works in government buildings worldwide
  • Assessing display requests within Government and for external loans to temporary public exhibitions.
  • Developing and overseeing other projects, such as curating public exhibitions from the Collection; selecting works from the Collection for display in non-typical venues; and commissioning work on behalf of other government departments for refurbished or new government buildings
  • Overseeing the management of the Collection, including care and conservation, documentation and research and interpretation.

Stakeholders and Audiences:

  • Developing and maintaining positive relationships with a wide range of people, including the GAC Advisory Committee members and chair, artists, gallerists, ministers, diplomats and staff from other Government departments, including No 10
  • Representing the GAC within DCMS and at external meetings and events
  • Overall leadership on public engagement, including website, social media and public tours (including evenings and at weekends and further developing public access to the Collection

People Leadership:

  • Confidently leading, empowering and developing a strong, successful, inclusive and resilient team of 17 people
  • Actively contributing to the leadership of the Arts, Heritage and Tourism Directorate in DCMS, and to the wider department and its policies

Strategy and Business Planning:

  • Leading on strategic development and policies of the GAC, including operational, business and budget planning
  • Overall leadership and line-management for the three strands of GAC work including:
    • Curatorial: Displays; public engagement, research and interpretation
    • Collections Care: Conservation; installations and transport logistics; technical support; loans; documentation; photographic and digital asset management
    • Administration: Budget monitoring; business planning; accommodation; HR and staff wellbeing; responding to Freedom of information requests and Parliamentary Questions; liaising with DCMS comms; business continuity, disaster and salvage planning


Person Specification

Essential Requirements:

  • A track record of driving delivery and providing visible leadership, with a proven ability to develop a motivated, engaged, diverse and high-performing workforce. Evidence of corporate leadership contributing to wider priorities (e.g. diversity and inclusion).
  • Leadership experience of business and budget planning and corporate and HR matters.
  • Outstanding ability to forge excellent relationships and political sensitivity, including credibility to be seen as a trusted adviser to ministers and ability to navigate between being a civil servant who is leading what is part of a Government Department while also an accredited museum.
  • Extensive experience of curating British art within an art gallery, museum or similar environment, including working with a collection and with artists, organising temporary exhibitions and managing art projects involving the commissioning and fabrication of new work.
  • A good working knowledge of British art, with an emphasis on the modern and contemporary
  • Experience of writing and editing texts and producing publications
  • A knowledge of the art market and valuations
    Ability to present art in different settings with sensitivity and good judgement
  • Ability to speak engagingly about art to a variety of different audiences.


You’ll receive over 30% of your total compensation package in benefits:

  • Flexible working arrangements and Flexi-time
  • 5 days annual leave on entry increasing to 31.5 days after 5 years’ service.
  • Exceptional contributory pension scheme
  • 5 days of paid leave for L&D
  • 5 days of paid volunteering
  • Parental leave up to 9 months on FULL pay
  • Occupational sick pay
  • Brilliant and engaged staff networks to join including the LGBT+, BAME, Mental Health and Wellbeing and Women’s Network.
  • Access to one of the world’s largest learning and development platforms
  • Masterclasses and talks through the DCMS Academy
  • Season ticket loan, Cycle to work scheme and much more!

Click here for more information and to apply.

Apply before 11:55 pm on Sunday 31st October 2021

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