The Box, Plymouth has announced the appointment of Victoria Pomery as Chief Executive Officer of the city’s £47 million museum, gallery and archive.
Pomery will be stepping down as Director of Turner Contemporary in the autumn, after 19 years in post and the gallery’s first 10 years of operation.
She oversaw the capital project which delivered the recognisable David Chipperfield building on Margate seafront, and was awarded an OBE for her services to the arts in 2012 and an Honorary Doctorate from University of Kent in 2020.
Pomery has led an internationally renowned programme of exhibitions and commissions which have gained high-profile press coverage, establishing a creative and exciting reputation for Turner Contemporary.
She said: “I have been so lucky to work with so many incredible artists, organisations and individuals over the years.
“Having seen first-hand the impact that art can make on people and places, I am looking forward to taking the work at The Box forward at a critical and exciting time for the organisation.
“Turner Contemporary is a fantastic institution with a dynamic Chair and Board of Trustees, a talented Senior Leadership Team and staff group, and Margate is a very special place.
“I feel privileged to have been part of its first incredible decade and look forward to seeing the gallery’s next phase of development.”
Under Pomery’s leadership, the vision for a major, world-renowned gallery, rooted locally in Margate and Kent has been developed. Turner Contemporary has received 3.6 million visits and generated over £70 million for the local economy.
The building is now widely recognised as the first contemporary building to feature on a UK bank note. More than this, the gallery has built relationships widely across the community and worked with over 100,000 local children and young people to offer them access to high-quality creative learning opportunities.
Each year, around six per cent of visits come from individuals who have never been to a museum or gallery in their lives before. The gallery has exhibited the work of over 2,000 artists. In 2019, it hosted the world-famous Turner Prize.
The Box is the UK’s most significant cultural development of recent years and the largest multi-disciplinary arts and heritage space in the South West.
Its innovative design transforms three historic city centre buildings to create a cutting-edge, interactive cultural centre with 13 new galleries and exhibition spaces and a striking ‘archive in the sky’.
With major investment from Plymouth City Council, Arts Council England and National Heritage Lottery Fund, The Box is an important hub for education and learning and a major new cultural attraction for the city, as well as home to six nationally important collections.
The venue’s critically acclaimed opening programme, including works by internationally renowned artists Antony Gormley, Leonor Antunes and Christopher Baker, set the tone for Plymouth’s ambition as an important new centre for historic and contemporary art.
The Box’s 2021 programme includes ‘Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America’, which sits alongside the venue’s ground-breaking ‘Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy’ exhibition to tell a shared transatlantic history.
Details of a blockbuster contemporary art exhibition to open at the venue in September will be released next month.
Meanwhile, 2021 marks Turner Contemporary’s 10th Anniversary. The gallery’s current programme includes ‘The Tourists: Ellen Harvey & JMW Turner’ as well as ‘Ashes’ by Steve McQueen. Barbara Walker’s ‘Place Space and Who’ is also on show at the gallery.
Barbara Walker, Artist, said: “Victoria is an incredibly supportive Director who takes risks! She was instrumental in the realisation of my commission, Place, Space and Who as well as the first book about my practice.
“Working with Victoria, her team and members of the local community has been such a tremendous opportunity which will always stay with me. I wish her every success at The Box.”
Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England, said: “As the founding Director of Turner Contemporary, Victoria has demonstrated what can be achieved when a gallery commits to an adventurous programme and sets out to serve its local community.
“Her contribution to the arts and to Margate, has been boundless. I am delighted that she will now bring her skills and experience to The Box, the exciting new museum, gallery and archive in Plymouth.”
Clive Stevens, Chair of Turner Contemporary said: “Victoria has been a phenomenal Director who has led Turner Contemporary through a vibrant, challenging and enormously successful period.
“The gallery has gone from strength to strength under her leadership and she will be greatly missed by us all here. She has developed a vibrant space which is full of energy, creativity and joy.
“The Board thanks her warmly for her dedication and exceptional work. We are beginning the search for her successor imminently.
“As we look to the next 10 years of Turner Contemporary, we look forward to continuing our work here in Margate and East Kent and ensuring that we remain vital and relevant to our communities.”
Cllr Nick Kelly, Leader of Plymouth Conservative Group, said: “It was a huge achievement to launch The Box in the middle of a global pandemic and visitors’ early reactions are extremely positive.
“With Victoria’s success using culture as a catalyst for place-based regeneration, driving economic growth, raising aspirations and improving community cohesion, we are incredibly excited that she will take The Box forward as a centre for creativity and a major cultural attraction for Plymouth and the South West.”
Mike Hill, Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, Kent County Council, said: “The founding aspiration for Turner Contemporary was to bring transformational benefits to Margate and East Kent. This has been successfully achieved.
“We now have a world-class venue on our doorstep and the gallery has delivered significant economic and social value for Kent, proving that art and creativity can inspire change. It has connected and engaged with the local community in enriching and powerful ways.
“Victoria’s creativity and steadfast commitment to the success of the gallery has been key to its success. We wish her well on her new important appointment and look forward to the next exciting phase of Turner Contemporary.”
Cllr Tudor Evans OBE, Leader of Plymouth Labour Group, said: “Victoria’s passion for connecting local communities with culture will allow us to build on The Box’s early success and ensure local audiences and visitors take the venue to their heart.
“Her impressive track record in working with contemporary artists of international renown fits perfectly with the city’s ambitions.”