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Judith McNicol appointed Director of the National Railway Museum

Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum. Picture by David Harrison.

Judith McNicol has been appointed Director of the National Railway Museum, a role she has been performing since July 2017 as acting Director.

Judith has been based at the National Railway Museum since she joined the Science Museum Group in 2005, during which time she has held many important roles – most recently as Director of People and Culture, supporting both the York museum and the wider museum group.

The National Railway Museum is planning a significant and exciting multimillion pound redevelopment that will transform the museum into a truly world-class visitor attraction. This will be the most significant change since the museum opened in 1975 and will begin with a project to modernise and refurbish the Great Hall.

Judith will lead on this masterplan which is slated for completion by 2025 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway and the museum’s own 50th anniversary. This transformation will see the museum as the cultural heart of York Central, a new city quarter around the museum site, featuring new public spaces as well as leisure, commercial and residential areas.

Judith McNicol said: “It is a very special privilege to become Director of the National Railway Museum. This museum and the collection it holds are close to my heart: my great great-grandfather was one of the many to die in the construction of the Forth Railway Bridge and from a young age, I remember travelling across that bridge in awe of the scale, beauty and the possibilities that it held. In my very first week at the National Railway Museum in 2005, I was able to ride on the footplate of Flying Scotsman – a magical experience. And working amongst the great “firsts” – Stephenson, Brunel, Mallard, Rocket and of course Flying Scotsman – has been a childhood dream come true. My ambition as Director is that the museum will not only inspire future engineers to be part of the rail industry – ensuring that Britain leads the world in railway innovation – but also that we will play a key role in the huge York Central development.”

Judith has a particular passion for creating inspiring programming and opportunities for young people – especially girls, who have been traditionally under-represented – to pursue careers in engineering and technology. The Future Engineers programme at the museum and the current display of the Soyuz capsule are an example of the museum’s commitment to explore the past, present and future of science and the railways.

Judith becomes the first woman to lead the National Railway Museum in its 45-year history.

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group: “Judith brings an exemplary range of experiences to the role, with great knowledge of York and the museum – having been based there for 14 years in several roles. In the past six months, she has already begun to drive through significant change at the museum – leading on the masterplan and its role in the York Central project with vision and determination. Her passion for engineering, technology and innovation will transform the museum over the coming years.”

Museum-iD Magazine #21

Museum-iD Magazine #21

International, independent and influential. Museum-iD shares progressive thinking and developments in museums globally.

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