Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central Tristram Hunt has been announced as the new director of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Tristram was previously shadow secretary of state and shadow minister for education. He will resign as MP, triggering a by-election in his constituency.
According to the museum, Tristram is an expert on 18th and 19th Century history, with a particular focus on Victorian urban history. He is the author of several books, including The English Civil War: At First Hand and Ten Cities That Made An Empire, and a regular history broadcaster on the BBC and Channel 4. He has made over 12 series on subjects including Elgar and Empire on Radio 3.
His support of the ceramics industry ties him to the institution. Together with the Art Fund, he was part of a campaign to save the Wedgwood Collection in 2014, which was gifted to the V&A.
He lectures on modern British history at Queen Mary University of London, is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a founder of the Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival, and is a patron of the British Ceramics Biennial. He has also been a curator of the Mayor of London’s History Festival.
V&A chairman Nicholas Coleridge said of the appointment: “He has a highly compelling mixture of experience across public life, the arts, history, education and academia, and knows our collections well from his writing and broadcasting. In addition, he is an informed and articulate leader and communicator on numerous facets of culture, both historic and contemporary.”
Tristram said that he has “loved the V&A since I was a boy,” and that this is “a moment of transformation and renewal for the V&A,” with the imminent opening of the new Exhibition Road entrance, and new sites in Dundee, China and Stratford.
The former V&A director Martin Roth announced his resignation in September 2016, following interviews in which he voiced disillusionment and concerns over the Brexit vote.
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