Victoria Pomery to step down as Founding Director of Turner Contemporary in Margate and to take up the position of Chief Executive Officer at The Box, Plymouth

Today, The Box, Plymouth announces the appointment of Victoria Pomery as Chief Executive Officer of the city’s newly opened £47milllion museum, gallery and archive.

Victoria 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. Pomery oversaw the capital project which delivered the recognisable David Chipperfield building on Margate seafront. She was awarded an OBE for her services to the arts in 2012 and an Honorary Doctorate from University of Kent in 2020. She 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.

Victoria Pomery, Director of Turner Contemporary 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 £70million 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 6% 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 2000 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. 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.”

Councillor 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.”

Councillor 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.”

More information

Victoria Pomery Biography

Victoria Pomery, Director, Turner Contemporary

Victoria Pomery has worked in the arts all her life. In 2002 she was appointed as the founding Director of Turner Contemporary to develop an arts organisation in Margate as part of a strategy of cultural-led regeneration. Since opening in 2011, Turner Contemporary has welcomed more than 3.5million visits. Victoria is responsible for the artistic and strategic vision of the organisation. In 2019 Turner Contemporary hosted the Turner Prize exhibition and Victoria was on the jury. Victoria was awarded an OBE for services to the arts in 2012 and an Honorary Doctorate from Canterbury Christ Church University in 2020. Victoria is a trustee of the Bethlem Gallery and a Kent Ambassador.

About The Box, Plymouth

The city of Plymouth has undergone transformational change with the £47million construction of The Box, proudly led by Plymouth City Council with significant support from National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England. The venue is a new cultural and heritage complex that completely transforms, extends and combines the original City Museum, Art Gallery and Central Library buildings and restores St Luke’s Church, to create new galleries, a striking elevated archive, learning and research facilities and the first public square to be built in Plymouth since 2004, forming the largest museum, art gallery and archive in the South West.

The Box, which originally opened in Autumn 2020, is becoming renowned for its engaging exhibition programme. The programme integrates the contemporary and the historic to bring the past to life through the present. It showcases international visual arts and media, as well as Plymouth’s rich heritage through ambitious touring exhibitions, new commissions and the city’s permanent collections.

At the heart of The Box’s ethos is the conservation, heritage and preservation of Plymouth’s rich history and heritage. The venue brings together six outstanding national collections in a new and sustainable home, including objects from Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, archives from the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office and film and photographs from the South West Film and Television Archive and the South West Image Bank. This rich blend of collections enables the stories of international and local significance to be told through immersive experiences and amazing objects.

The Box also has responsibility for two of Plymouths’ most significant historical buildings; Smeaton’s Tower, Plymouth’s famous red and white Lighthouse and the 400 year old Elizabethan House which opens to the public this year following a six year restoration project.

About Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary is one of the UK’s leading art galleries. Founded to celebrate JMW Turner’s connection to Margate in 2001, the David Chipperfield designed gallery opened in 2011.

Our work extends beyond showcasing world class exhibitions, to driving the social and economic regeneration of Margate and East Kent and transforming lives in one of the most deprived areas of the UK.

Since we opened, Turner Contemporary has welcomed over 3.5million visits, put over £70million back into the Kent economy and connected with thousands of people from the local community through our world class programme.

Entry to the gallery and all of our exhibitions is free. To ensure our doors stay open to all, we rely on donations from individuals as well as trusts and foundations.

Turner Contemporary is a registered charity, receiving public funding from Kent County Council and Arts Council England.