Manchester Museum has appointed Esme Ward as its Director, the first woman to hold the role in the Museum’s 125-year history. Esme will take up her new role at the Museum, the largest of its kind in the UK, on Monday 9 April, succeeding Nick Merriman.
Esme, currently Head of Learning & Engagement at Manchester Museum and the Whitworth, said: “I am thrilled to be appointed the new Director of Manchester Museum. The vision to use its collections to promote understanding between cultures and a sustainable world could not be more timely or relevant.”
She says her career has been driven by a social purpose and longstanding commitment to make museums even more inclusive and relevant to a wider audience. These range from babies to people living with dementia.
It is something Esme wants to explore even further in her new role, adding: “I am hugely excited to lead the Museum at this critical time, build upon its excellent work to date and realise its potential as the UK’s most inclusive, imaginative and caring museum.”
Esme joined the Whitworth as its Education Officer in 1998 before becoming Head of Learning & Engagement across the Whitworth and Manchester Museum in 2010. In recent years she also worked alongside Maria Balshaw to transform the Whitworth and help it win Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2015. Esme also recently completed a year-long Clore Cultural Leadership Fellowship, including a placement with the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Professor James Thompson, Vice President for Social Responsibility at The University of Manchester, said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have appointed the first woman director of Manchester Museum. Esme will bring vision and innovation to the Museum, continuing its excellent work with academics, students and its commitment to engagement with diverse local, national and international communities. The Museum is thriving with record visitor numbers and now, as we build the new Courtyard project, Esme is an ideal appointment for this exciting phase in the Museum’s development.”