Maria Balshaw Hotly Tipped as Nicholas Serota’s Successor at Tate

Tate refuses to confirm the appointment despite insistent rumors.

Maria Balshaw is new director of Tate. Photo Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for The Art Fund.
Maria Balshaw is new director of Tate. Photo Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for The Art Fund.

Maria Balshaw, current director of the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester and Manchester City Galleries, is almost certainly set to become the successor of Nicholas Serota at the helm of Tate.

The London-based institution has not confirmed the appointment, and in a telephone conversation with artnet News, a spokeswoman said the process was still “ongoing.”

Nevertheless, British newspapers like the Evening Standard and the Times are reporting on the appointment as certain, with an official announcement “imminent.”

The Guardian reported this morning that “[Balshaw’s] name has been put forward to the government and it still needs to be formally agreed by the prime minister, Theresa May” and that a decision “is not expected until at least next week.”

Balshaw has been a favorite—alongside Julia Peyton-Jones, former director of the Serpentine Galleries, and Iwona Blazwick, director of London’s Whitechapel Gallery—since Serota announced plans for his departure in September 2016.

Balshaw became the director of the Whitworth Art Gallery in 2006, leading a £15 million ($18 million) redevelopment of the university gallery. The Whitworth reopened February 2015, and that same year it won the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year award.

Meanwhile, in 2011 Balshaw also became director of Manchester City Galleries and, in 2014, was appointed board member of Arts Council England, the organization of which Serota will become chairman starting February 1.

If she’s officially confirmed, Balshaw would become the first woman to hold the prestigious top job at Tate. This would echo the well-received appointment of Frances Morris as director of Tate Modern in January 2016, becoming the first woman to direct the museum, one of the most visited in the world.

According to the Art Newspaper, the new director will have to face a number of pressing tasks, including completing the fundraising for the expansion of Tate Modern—with £20 million ($24 million) still required out of the total budget—as well as the reopening of Tate St Ives this March, which is also undergoing an expansion and renovation.


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