The man who led the team which created the V&A Dundee success story is to depart the globally-renowned tourist attraction.
Conservation charity the National Trust for Scotland has announced the appointment of Philip Long as its chief executive, succeeding Simon Skinner when he retires this summer.
Mr Long was V&A Dundee’s founding director, appointed in 2011 to lead the development of all aspects of the project, from its early planning to the successful opening of the spectacular £80 million Kengo Kuma-designed waterfront jewel in September 2018.
He spearheaded the museum staff and the founding partnership of the V&A, Dundee City Council, the University of Dundee, Abertay University and Scottish Enterprise in delivering the first design museum in Scotland and the first V&A in the world outside London.
It is currently closed under the Covid-19 lockdown, having this week been due to unveil its latest major exhibition celebrating the design genius of fashion icon Mary Quant.
Mr Long, who was awarded an OBE in the 2020 New Year honours for services to heritage and culture, said it had been a “real privilege” to head the V&A team.
The museum has received international critical recognition – including by Time Magazine as one of the world’s 100 greatest places of 2019 – and delivered an economic impact for Scotland of £75 million in the first 12 months after opening.
Mr Long said: “It is a great honour to be appointed as the new chief executive of the National Trust for Scotland, an organisation which I greatly admire, and whose properties I’ve enjoyed for many years. The Trust is invaluable to our nation.”
His NTS role will include overseeing a range of Tayside and Fife attractions, including House of Dun, near Montrose, Sir J M Barrie’s Kirriemuir Birthplace and Branklyn Gardens in Perthshire.
The body’s Fife portfolio includes Falkland Palace and Balmerino Abbey.
NTS chairman, Sir Mark Jones said: “I can speak for the board of trustees in saying we are delighted that Philip Long has agreed to become the charity’s chief executive.
“His background in Scottish art and design is impeccable and his proven leadership skills, with which he led the V&A Dundee project to an acclaimed conclusion, will be a considerable asset to us as we face the challenges of the future.
“I also want to offer my profound thanks to Simon Skinner. He has selflessly agreed to stay on longer as chief executive to ensure continuity of leadership pending Philip’s arrival in July.
“Simon’s contribution to the reform and modernisation of the Trust over the last five years has been immense and his leadership skills have shone through yet again during the current public health emergency.”
Departing director believes V&A future secure in ‘passionate’ hands
Philip Long believes the future of V&A Dundee is in the safe hands of the “remarkable, passionate” team which has forged the attraction’s international fame.
He said: “Leading the team which opened V&A Dundee has been a real privilege.
“Scotland’s design museum has a remarkable, passionate team driving it forward and I wish them all the very best for V&A Dundee’s continued success and for the vital role it is playing in that city and nationally.”
Of his new NTS role, he said: “The Trust is invaluable to our nation. The buildings and landscape in its care, which it makes accessible to millions of visitors every year, are truly world-class, defining our country’s heritage, culture and identity at its most outstanding.
“I am looking forward immensely to joining the Trust’s team and am fortunate to be succeeding Simon Skinner, who I would like to thank for his outstanding work.”
Mr Long arrived at Dundee’s waterfront site which would become home to the world-famous design museum from the post of senior curator at the National Galleries of Scotland.
During his time there he developed a specialisation in historic and contemporary Scottish and wider British art and design.
His international work has included the curation of Scotland’s presentation at the Venice Biennale in 2007, responsibility for the UK presentation at the Milan Design Triennale and advising museums and government agencies on the development of new cultural and heritage organisations.
He is an Honorary Professor of the University of Dundee, an Honorary Research Fellow of St Andrews University, a member of the British Council’s Arts and Creative Economy Committee, and a board member of Creative Scotland.
A Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Mr Long was also the recipient of a unique award for Transforming Scotland from the Institute of Directors in 2019.