Former Serpentine Director Julia Peyton-Jones Joins Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Is this the most high-profile museum-to-gallery crossover yet?

Thaddeus Ropac and Julia Peyton-Jones. Photo courtesy of the gallery.

Dame Julia Peyton-Jones, one of the most powerful women in the UK art world and the former director of London’s Serpentine Galleries, will join Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac as senior global director, the gallery announced today. She will begin her new role on September 1, and will work out of the gallery’s five-story Mayfair mansion, which opened earlier this year.

In the newly created position, Peyton-Jones will focus on the “creative development of the gallery,” according to a press statement, and work closely with the gallery’s growing roster of 60 artists and estates. A gallery spokesman said that Ropac and Peyton-Jones had been in discussions about the role for “for some time,” but did not specify further.

“I’ve always wanted to understand how the commercial sector, an integral part of the art world, works in practice and can think of no more exciting opportunity than this,” Peyton-Jones told the FT, which first reported the news.

In her 25 years at the Serpentine, Peyton-Jones played a critical role in transforming the institution into a magnet for the world’s top artists and architects and gained a reputation as a keen fundraiser. In 2000, she launched the annual Serpentine Commission, which invites a new architect to erect a custom pavilion in Kensington Gardens every summer. She left her post last July.

In a statement, Peyton-Jones said that she looks forward to building on the gallery’s “impressive exhibition history” as it “extends its ambition and international presence. I simply cannot wait to get started!”

Peyton-Jones is not the first museum veteran to cross over to the for-profit sector full-time, but she might be the most high-profile to date. In April, former Dallas Museum curator Jeffrey Grove joined Sean Kelly Gallery in New York, while Eric Shiner, the former director of the Andy Warhol Museum, joined Sotheby’s last year. Arnold Lehman, the former director of the Brooklyn Museum joined Phillips as a senior advisor in 2015. Former Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, curator Paul Schimmel joined Hauser & Wirth as a partner in 2013, but left the gallery in February.

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