Di Lees to leave IWM

Diane Lees is to stand down as director general of the Imperial War Museums next year, she announced today.

In her 14 years there she has led the museum and its branches – IWM North in Salford, the Cabinet War Rooms, HMS Belfast and the Duxford American Air Museum, in one of the most transformative periods in its 105-year history, realising more than £90m in fundraising and investment. Lees, 58, succeeded Robert Crawford.

Successful projects have included the opening of IWM London’s new First World War Galleries to mark the centenary in 2014 and the co-commissioning of Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, as well as working closely with the 14-18 NOW festival over four years to 2018. She led the redevelopment of IWM Duxford’s American Air Museum in 2016 and the completion of IWM London’s Second World War and The Holocaust Galleries in 2021.

She has also helped organisations across the world on the subject of war and conflict, including establishing IWM’s First World War Centenary Partnership and The Subject Specialist Network which have brought together thousands of organisations and millions of people globally. 

The museum’s chairman, Matthew Westerman, said Lees had given extraordinary service building on the work of predecessors. Her tenure has coincided with good and bad times, most notably the global financial crisis and the pandemic, and throughout the museum has stayed true to its mission” he said. “Di has led the team from the front in making the museum such a compelling place to visit both physically and digitally”.


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