Dixon to stand down at NHM

Sir Michael Dixon has announced that he is to retire as director of the Natural History Museum after 15 years.

He is to stand down at the end of the next financial year, March 2021, when he will be 65.

Dixon joined the NHM after four years as director general of the Zoological Society and before that 20 years in scientific publishing.

Under him the museum, which introduced free admission in 2001, has doubled its annual visitor numbers to 5.5m, extended its research operation, and increased access to the 80m specimens it holds through mass digitisation.

In 2010 he opened the Darwin Centre, the NHM’s biggest capital development in decades, and in 2017 its refurbished central gallery, Hintze Hall, with “Hope”, a blue whale skeleton, suspended from the ceiling in place of “Dippy the Diplodocus”, which is currently on tour of UK museums.

Scientific achievements in his time include the coordination of SYNTHESIS+, a €10m initiative to create a Europe-wide collections infrastructure, and large-scale experimental treatment to combat neglected tropical diseases caused by parasitic worms affecting almost 1.5 billion of the world’s poorest people, DeWorm3, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. is undertaking large-scale experimental treatment to combat neglected tropical diseases caused by parasitic worms which blights the lives of nearly 1.5 billion of the world’s poorest people. 

Accessibility and acknowledgement of the museum’s research achievements and potential have been priorities for Dixon. In September he opened the museum’s new $4m members’ suite, devised to encourage people to become financial supporters of the  NHM’s research work. “But it’s not overtly about fundraising, it’s also about supporting the causes of the museum” he told AI. “The museum needs to be much more visible in talking about big societal issues, big environmental issues, the fact that our current methods of producing and consuming food are unsustainable - not to be strident about it but providing evidence for people to make up their own minds.”

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