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Dame Janet Vitmayer, DBE, appointed new Chair of Trustees of Dulwich Picture Gallery

With more than 40 years of experience in museums across national, regional, and local levels, Dame Janet Vitmayer succeeds Professor Evelyn Welch who is coming to the end of her eight-year term as Chair of the Dulwich Picture Gallery Board. Dame Janet’s distinguished career includes leading the Horniman Museum and Gardens as CEO for 19 years, overseeing significant growth and development.

Dame Janet brings extensive expertise, serving on boards and committees including the University of Oxford Museums, Hunterian Collection, and London Transport Museum. She has chaired prestigious bodies including the Wellcome Trust capital awards and the Women Leaders in Museums Network. Recognised for her exceptional contributions, Dame Janet was awarded a DBE in 2018. She is currently a Dulwich Picture Gallery Trustee, Chair of St Paul's Cathedral's Visual Arts Committee, and Vice Chair of the Florence Nightingale Museum.

Beyond her esteemed roles, Dame Janet actively mentors museum leaders and young women in the cultural sector. Notably, she has been instrumental in shaping Open Art, a transformative capital project at Dulwich Picture Gallery, with works starting this year and delivery due in 2025.

Dame Janet's proven leadership, deep museum knowledge, and dedication to diversity make her ideally suited to guide Dulwich Picture Gallery into its next exciting chapter.

Dame Janet Vitmayer said:

"The Gallery has held a special place in my heart for years, not just through my South London involvement, but through witnessing its impact first-hand as a trustee. It doesn't merely showcase world-class art; it breathes life into it, embedding it into the heart of our community through groundbreaking engagement and public programmes. Taking on the position of Chair at such a pivotal moment is both an honour and a thrill and I look forward to collaborating with Jennifer Scott and her team as we shape a vibrant future for the Gallery.

 Outgoing Chair of Trustees, Professor Evelyn Welch, MBE said:

"The past eight years as Chair have been hugely rewarding, fuelled by the collaborative spirit and exceptional talent of the Dulwich Picture Gallery team. I am delighted to welcome Janet as my successor. She brings a wealth of experience in the arts sector and a deep commitment to public engagement, which are invaluable assets as the Gallery enters its next chapter. I'm confident she will provide dynamic leadership and build upon the Gallery's strong foundations, ensuring it remains a vibrant hub for artistic expression and community engagement.”

 Jennifer Scott, The Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery, said:

“Since her appointment in 2016, the Gallery has benefitted hugely from the wise counsel of Professor Evelyn Welch as Chair of Trustees. I am thrilled that Dame Janet will take up the mantle from Evelyn, ensuring the future success of this incomparable gallery, and in particular guiding us in our delivery of the ‘Open Art capital project that will see the transformation of the Gallery’s gardens.”

- Ends

Notes to editors

Evelyn Welch, MBE, is stepping down at the end of two terms (8 years) as Chair of Trustees. She is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Bristol. Evelyn was previously Professor of Renaissance Studies, Provost, and Senior Vice President (Arts & Sciences) at King’s College, London. She served as the Interim President and Principal of King's College London from February to June 2021. A celebrated art historian, her publications include Fashioning the Early Modern: Dress, Textiles and Innovation in Europe, 1500–1800 (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Art and Authority in Renaissance Milan (Yale University Press, 1995).

 Janet Vitmayer, DBE, biography:

Janet has worked in museums for over 40 years at national, regional and local level. She was CEO of the Horniman Museum and Gardens from 1999- 2018 where she led a series of successful capital developments and fundraising campaigns resulting in the transformation of the Horniman’s galleries, buildings and Gardens. Underpinned by collections development and audience engagement, this led to an increase of over 300% in visitor numbers.

Janet has served on expert panels and has wide experience of museum boards and committees, including: Visitor, University of Oxford (Pitt Rivers); Trustee Hunterian Collection RCS; Trustee London Transport Museum; Trustee Collections Trust; HLF Expert Panel member and Project Board for Wellcome Collection development. She has also chaired the Wellcome Trust culture and society capital awards committee and the Women Leaders in Museums Network. She has spoken on leadership at international conferences, and run training seminars for the British Museum International Training Programme in the UK and abroad.

Janet is currently a trustee of Dulwich Picture Gallery, Chair of the Visual Arts Committee St Paul’s Cathedral and Vice Chair of the Florence Nightingale Museum. Since leaving the Horniman she has worked as a consultant for the National Lottery Heritage Fund and for universities. She mentors CEO’s, aspiring leaders, and young women in the cultural sector. Janet was made a Dame in the 2018 Honours List for services to museums and diversity.

Click here for the full Board of Trustees

About Open Art

Open Art is Dulwich Picture Gallery’s vision for a happy, healthier and greener future. A series of enhancements and new developments across Dulwich Picture Gallery’s site will fully integrate the gardens, transforming three acres of green space into a sculpture garden with a difference and securing this much loved and internationally renowned destination for future generations. The Gallery is working with leading architect practice Carmody Groarke and renowned landscape artist, Kim Wilkie to realise this next phase in the Gallery’s journey. “Open Art” is comprised of connected elements that will make the most of the entire extent of the site, enhancing previously underused areas and the experience for all visitors.   

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