Hartwig Fischer Tapped to Become New Director of London’s British Museum

Fischer would become the first foreign director of the British Museum in over 200 years.

Hartwig Fischer, the British Museum's or. Photo: Alamy Stock Photo

The British Museum in London is set to appoint German art historian Hartwig Fischer to replace the outgoing director Neil MacGregor at the helm of Britain’s most popular tourist attraction.

The Guardian reports that the imminent appointment has already been sanctioned by British government officials and is pending approval by Prime Minister David Cameron.

If the appointment of Fischer, current director of the Dresden State Art Collections, is confirmed, he would become the British Museum’s first foreign director in more than 200 years.

In turn, MacGregor will take up a consultant position in Germany, joining the advisory board of Berlin’s Humboldt-Forum.

Outgoing director Neil MacGregor turned the institution into the second most visited museum in the world. Photo: elginism.com

Outgoing director Neil MacGregor turned the institution into the second most visited museum in the world.
Photo: elginism.com

The impending decision would bring an end to a five month search for a successor, after MacGregor announced that he would step down from his role at the end of 2015.

Fischer’s rumored appointment has surprised many observers considering that he has never worked in Britain. However, the German’s Wassily Kandinsky exhibition that traveled to Tate Modern in 2006 was well-received by critics and visitors.

The British Museum is the most popular tourist attraction in the country. Photo: AP via the Independent

The British Museum is the most popular tourist attraction in the country.
Photo: AP via The Independent

It will be a challenge for any successor to live up to the legacy MacGregor leaves at the British Museum. During his 13-year tenure, the director oversaw an extensive £135 million ($205 million) renovation and turned the institution into a global powerhouse.

MacGregor transformed visitor numbers from 4.6 million in 2002-03 to 6.7 million in 20014-15, turning the institution into the second most visited museum in the world, just behind the Louvre, which, according to the Daily Mail, recorded 9.2 million visitors in 2014-15.

The British Museum welcomed 6.7 million visitors in 2014/15. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The British Museum welcomed 6.7 million visitors in 2014/15.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When he announced his decision to leave the British Museum, MacGregor said that the job was “the greatest privilege of my professional life,” adding that the institution would benefit from “a new phase.”

The British Museum hasn’t had a foreign director since the Dutchman Dr Matthew Maty was in charge from 1772 to 1776.


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