NMS’s Rintoul to stand down

The director of National Museums Scotland, Gordon Rintoul, is to stand down after 18 transforming years in the job.

Since joining in 2002 from Sheffield Galleries and Museums Rintoul, 64, has fundraised for and planned an £80m masterplan which was completed in February this year.

The transformation has added half as much again public space and put 6,500 more objects on display as well as a complete recasting of galleries, and since he joined visitor numbers have increased from 1.2m a year to 3.2m.

The fourth and final phase was with the opening of Ancient Egypt, East Asian and ceramics galleries, the last of 29 new spaces in the scheme initiated by Rintoul in 2004.

“The people before me did the new museum, Mark Jones (later director the V&A), Robert Anderson (who went on to run the British Museum), and while a lot of thinking was done about the main museum, nothing had really been done” Rintoul said at the start of the final phase in 2011. “I had a piece of paper at my interview which said ‘Sort out Royal Museum!’ It’s what I came here to do”.

National Museums Scotland now comprises the National War Museum and National Museum of Scotland (formerly the Royal Museum and Museum of Scotland) in Edinburgh, the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian and the National Museum of Rural Life in East Kilbride.

Born in Glasgow and educated at Edinburgh University. After doctorate was in the history of science and technology at the University of Manchester, Rintoul became curator of the Colour Museum at Widnes and then opened Catalyst, the museum of the chemical industry, at Bradford before becoming CEO of Sheffield Galleries and Museums. At Sheffield, he was responsible for the £15m Millennium Galleries, and he developed partnerships with the V&A, the Tate, the British Museum and the Natural History Museum. He received the CBE in 2012.

“Under Gordon’s tenure NMS has grown in stature and profile, becoming one of the leading museum groups in Europe, if not the world, said Bruce Minto, chairman of of trustees. “The transformation of the NMS is, undoubtedly, his flagship achievement; an enormous undertaking which could not have been realised without his vision, talent and determination.” 

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