barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


Nicola Kalinsky


Nicola Kalinsky, joined the Barber Institute as its sixth Director in January 2013, having moved from a role as Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland.

Nicola, who moved to Scotland in 1997, played a key role in the 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 was 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.

Contact: Julia Cunningham, PA to the Director

Robert Wenley

Deputy Director and Head of Collections

Robert Wenley joined the Barber Institute in May 2010 from Glasgow Museums, where he was the Curator of European Art, 1600-1800 and based at the Burrell Collection from 2003 until 2010.

Robert studied History (BA Hons) at Durham University and Gallery Studies (M. Litt.) at the University of St Andrews. This was followed by twelve years in the curatorial section of the Wallace Collection, London. There he specialised in French bronzes of the 16th to 18th centuries, co-founding the international French Bronze Study Group in 2000. His French Bronzes in the Wallace Collection was published in 2002, and he also contributed an essay and entries to the catalogue of the landmark exhibition, Cast in Bronze: French Sculpture from Renaissance to Revolution (Louvre, Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 2008/9). He was Reviews Editor for the Sculpture Journal from 2000 to 2010 and then a member of the Editorial Board until 2015.

His other specialist areas of interest are Dutch and Flemish 17th-century paintings, and the history of collecting, particularly in Britain, and he has published several articles on these subjects in academic journals. Robert is Chair of Birmingham’s Public Picture Gallery Fund (founded 1871) and a member of the National Gallery, London’s Advisory Committee for Research on European Paintings.

Here at the Barber, Robert has curated numerous exhibitions and displays, including Carved, Cast and Modelled: Sculpture from the Barber Collection (2011), Portrait of a Lady: The Life and Passions of Lady Barber (2012/13), Close to the Heart: 17th to 19th-century Portrait Miniatures from UK Private Collections(2013), Flinck in Focus (2015/16), Chance, Order, Change: Abstract Paintings 1939-89 (2016) and Pride and Persecution: Jan Steen’s Old Testament Scenes (2017/18).


Helen Cobby

Assistant Curator

Maria Vrij

Coin Curator

Vicky Skelding-Bloor

Exhibition & Loans Manager

Alan Armstrong

Collections Technician



Andrew Davies

Communications and Marketing Manager

Alice Benbow

Communications and Marketing Assistant 

Sarah Benn

Membership Officer (Barber Association)

Nemone Ryan 

Commercial Sales Officer



Jen Ridding

Head of Public Engagement 

Flora Kay

Learning and Engagement Manager

Becca Randle

Learning and Engagement Coordinator

Beth Brankowski

Learning and Engagement Administrator

Kirsty Clarke

Student Engagement Coordinator



David Lowe

Visitor Services Manager



Jo Sweet 

Head of University Music and Concerts

Emma Margetson

Concerts and Marketing Administrator (Maternity Cover)


Gill Hill

Finance/Clerical Assistant




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