Cultural Comings and Goings: The British Museum’s New Director and More

Lucian Simmons and Kyoko Hattori are among the art insiders stepping into new roles.

From Southern Guild’s hiring of two new directors for its Los Angeles gallery to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s decision to appoint a provenance research head, here are some of the most notable changes recently announced across the arts and culture sphere.

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Nicholas Cullinan appointed director of the British Museum

Black and white photo of man in suit sitting on stool
Nicholas Cullinan. © Zoë Law

After an uncertain few months, the British Museum has found a new director in Nicholas Cullinan. Currently the director of London’s National Portrait Gallery, he will take over from interim museum director Sir Mark Jones this summer.

The British Museum is still dealing with fallout from recent allegations that a former curator stole around 1,800 items, with some sold on eBay. Hartwig Fischer, the former museum head, stepped down last summer following reports that he didn’t take concerns over the thefts seriously enough.

Cullinan’s appointment was unanimously approved by both the museum’s board of trustees and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.  “I could not be more thrilled for Nick and more excited for us as we enter this new chapter in the long story of the British Museum with confidence, and back on the front foot,” said George Osborne, chair of the British Museum, in a statement. His responsibilities will include overseeing fundraising for an upcoming renovation of the arts institution.

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Cullinan previously worked as a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) and Tate Modern. He joined the National Portrait Gallery in 2015, leading a re-presentation of its collection and building redevelopment, in addition to working with the Getty to co-acquire Sir Joshua Reynolds’ painting Portrait of Mai—which marked the most significant acquisition in the history of both the National Portrait Gallery and the U.K. “I can’t imagine a better challenge or opportunity to build on that than collectively reimagining the British Museum for the widest possible audience and future generations,” he said in a statement.

Patricia Cruz to step down as director of Harlem Stage

Woman in floral shirt stands in front of black background
Patricia Cruz. Paula Lobo/Courtesy Harlem Stage

Patricia Cruz, who has led Harlem Stage for 25 years, will step down as artistic director and CEO this July and take on a special advisory role. Her successor will be announced by the performing arts center on June 3 during its 40th anniversary gala.

“From the moment I was recruited from the Studio Museum to join Harlem Stage, then known as Aaron Davis Hall, it was an immediate homecoming,” said Cruz in a statement, adding that her successor “will guide Harlem Stage to the next level of cultural excellence and diversity, with a plan to propagate the work of the extraordinary artists that we have nurtured to national and international communities.”

After working as deputy director for programs at Harlem’s Studio Museum for nearly ten years, Cruz joined Harlem Stage as executive director in 1998. Her subsequent quarter-century of leadership included a $26 million campaign to rebrand the institution and restore its 134-year-old Gatehouse building.

Cruz also helmed the center as it introduced initiatives like E-Moves, a dance series bringing together artists of color; and established 2015 as the Year of James Baldwin for New York City. “At a time when Black women in leadership roles are under siege, Pat Cruz has been a beacon of strength and resistance,” said Courtney F. Lee-Mitchell, president of the organization’s board of directors, in a statement.

The Met hires Lucian Simmons to lead provenance research efforts

Man in black suit stands in front of brick wall
Lucian Simmons. WIlson Santiago/Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art

As the Met expands its cultural property initiatives, the museum is bringing on Lucian Simmons in the newly created role of head of provenance research. Simmons, who has been with Sotheby's since 1995, will take on the position this May.

His appointment comes after the museum’s announcement last spring that it would emphasize provenance research amid renewed efforts to examine its collection, which has experienced growing scrutiny over the presence of looted artifacts.

Simmons, who formerly worked as a partner at the London law firm Barlow, Lyde and Gilbert, most recently acted as the vice chairman of Sotheby’s restitution department and senior specialist in its Department of Impressionist and Modern Art. At the auction house, he introduced a team dedicated to provenance matters and created a market standard for provenance issues relating to World War II.

“His vast experience with cultural property and restitution over the past several decades will be invaluable to the museum,” said Max Hollein, director and CEO of the Met, in a statement. Simmons will coordinate research efforts with the Met’s various curatorial departments for all objects that could be considered cultural property or contain Nazi-era provenance.

The Met also announced an expanded position for Maya Muratov, who already works in provenance research for the Department of Greek and Roman Art, in addition to creating new provenance research positions in the Department of Asian Art, its American wing and Department of Egyptian Art that will be filled by Qamar Adamjee, Jennifer Day and Maxence Garde respectively. The bolstered team now brings the number of employees focused on provenance research to eleven, according to the museum.

Kyoko Hattori to head Pace’s Tokyo expansion

Woman wearing grey shirt poses with arms crossed
Kyoko Hattori. Courtesy Pace

Pace Gallery has appointed Kyoko Hattori to lead its expansion efforts in the city, specifically the upcoming opening of its new gallery outpost located in the Azabudai Hills development.

“Joining Pace Gallery and inaugurating Pace Tokyo fills me with boundless excitement,” said Hattori in a statement. “It’s a privilege to play a role in fostering deeper connections between Japanese collectors and museums with the global art landscape, and elevating Japan to the epicenter of culture and art market in Asia.”

Hattori recently worked as regional director of Phillips in Japan, where she opened the auctioneer’s Tokyo office in 2016 and secured consignments in the region. In her new role at Pace, she will develop a Japanese collector base, introduce gallery artists and clients to the nation’s art scene and establish connections with local artists and institutions.

“Kyoko and her team will bring the vitality and depth of both contemporary and historic culture of Japan to our entire community,” said Samanthe Rubell, president of Pace, in a statement. Pace Tokyo is expected to span three floors and 5,500 square feet in a building designed by Thomas Heatherwick, with an interior designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. It will add to Pace’s current international presence across cities like Los Angeles, New York, London, Geneva, Berlin, Hong Kong and Seoul.

Southern Guild taps Alejandro Bataille and Andréa Delph for its Los Angeles location

Man and woman pose inside art gallery in front of large painting
Alejandro Bataille and Andréa Delph. Elizabeth Carababas/Courtesy Southern Guild

Earlier this year, the Cape Town-based Southern Guild made history as the first South African gallery with an outpost in the U.S. Now, the art institution has appointed Alejandro Bataille and Andréa Delph to run its new Los Angeles location.

Situated in the city’s Melrose Hill neighborhood, the gallery is located in a former laundromat and measures 5,000 square feet. Its programming will emphasize collectible design and contemporary art—key areas of expertise for both Bataille and Delph.

Formerly the director and gallery manager of Nicodim Gallery, which emphasizes young and emerging artists, Delph was responsible for overseeing the operations of its inaugural New York location. Bataille, meanwhile, recently worked as a sales director at contemporary design gallery The Future Perfect.

“Both of our LA Directors represent dynamic viewpoints in their own right,” said Southern Guild founders Julian and Trevyn McGowan in a statement. Bataille’s experience as a botanical sculptor means “he has an intuitive understanding of artistic vocabularies,” they added, while Delph “cares deeply about wider representation of diverse voices within the art world.”

Cultural Comings and Goings: The British Museum’s New Director and More