barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


Press Release


A new Director has been appointed for the Barber Institute, as it prepares to celebrate the 80th anniversary of its foundation.

Nicola Kalinsky, currently Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, will take up her duties as sixth Director of the Barber Institute on 14 January 2013, following the departure earlier this year of Professor Ann Sumner. As well as playing a central role in the 80th anniversary programme throughout 2013, Nicola will lead the Barber as it hones plans for a major redevelopment of its building.

Nicola, who moved to Scotland in 1997, played a key role in the recent, critically acclaimed and hugely popular £17.6 million transformation of the Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. Responsible for the development of the refurbished galleries’ interpretative information and the delivery of the first 17 exhibitions, she is the museum’s 18th-century art specialist and has been responsible for several major acquisitions.

After reading History and English at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, Nicola studied for her MA at London’s Courtauld Institute of Art. She began her curatorial career as Keeper of Dulwich Picture Gallery, where she produced major shows on Charles Lebrun and Thomas Gainsborough. After five years at Dulwich, she joined University College London as Curator of the College Art Collections, where she organised the refurbishment of the Strang Print Room, initiated a public exhibition programme and restored the historic Flaxman plasters to the university. Alongside her scholarly interests, Nicola is particularly interested in how design and interpretation can be used to increase public enjoyment of fine art collections within traditional gallery spaces.

Vice Chancellor, Professor David Eastwood today welcomed the appointment: ‘We are delighted to be able to announce Nicola Kalinsky’s appointment to this prestigious position. Nicola is an distinguished gallery professional with an outstanding track record in curating collections and exhibitions. We are confident that she is a worthy successor to the Directorship, and will further enhance the Barber’s standing.’

Professor Michael Whitby, Head of the University’s College of Arts and Law, added: ‘Nicola’s academic strengths and interests, and her extensive curatorial experience – in particular, her commitment to public engagement in art and museums – will further enhance the Barber as a leading research institution as well as a ground-breaking public gallery. We look forward to working with Nicola to ensure the Barber’s continuing development as a leading university museum

Hugh Carslake, chairman of the Henry Barber Trust, which owns the fine art collection and is an essential funder of the Barber Institute’s activities, said: “The Trustees were most impressed with Nicola’s curriculum vitae and are very much looking forward to working with her. We are confident that she will bring a wealth of experience, innovation, ideas and energy to the Barber.’

Said Nicola: ‘I am thrilled to have been appointed the next Director of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.  The Barber, with its exquisite building, wonderful collections, and its unique place at the heart of the University, has a tremendous reputation for excellence which is the legacy of all its distinguished past Directors. It is a great honour to follow them.

‘I look forward to joining the team in the New Year and working with them to build on this impressive record of achievement and to make the most of the exciting new opportunities opening up to the Barber Institute at this time.’



Nicola Kalinsky

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