Press Releases

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales appoints new Director General

V&A’s Director of Learning and Interpretation to head up Wales’s seven national museums

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales today (12 July 2010) announced the appointment of David Anderson, Director of Learning and Interpretation at the Victoria and Albert Museum, as Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’s new Director General.

David Anderson was chosen from a selection of high-calibre international candidates because of his deep understanding of the role of national museums and museum culture, his particular expertise of the role of education in museums and the passion he demonstrated to take on the role.

His 20 years experience at one of the world’s leading museums makes him well placed to lead Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales and he will begin his new role in October 2010.

David Anderson is an established international authority on learning initiatives in museums and an adviser to Government on many projects, including national museum and gallery education strategy. In 1999, he was awarded an OBE for services to museums and education. He has in the recent past conducted seminars for the Trustees and staff of Amgueddfa Cymru on the educational role of the museum.

In his first role at the V&A as Head of Education he created the first team in a UK national museum dedicated to community education. As Director of Learning and Interpretation he led the development of the Museum’s new £4 million Sackler Centre for Arts Education, which opened in 2008, and formed the National Museums Online Learning Project – the only public project that national museums have undertaken together.

Born in Belfast and brought up in Warwickshire, David Anderson was initially inspired to study archaeology by his radical rugby-playing history teacher, which, in turn, led to him specialising in Irish history at Edinburgh University.

His love of Celtic literature, music and folklore makes him keen to engage with and promote Welsh culture at home and across the world.

Mr Anderson is joining Amgueddfa Cymru at an exciting period for the Welsh institution with developments to create a National History Museum at St Fagans continuing and the progressing of the conversion of the first floor of National Museum Cardiff to become the National Museum of Art for Wales, which is due to be completed in summer 2011. The ground floor of National Museum Cardiff is also scheduled for designation as Wales’s Natural History Museum.

Mr Anderson’s appointment follows Michael Houlihan’s departure from Amgueddfa Cymru having been appointed as Chief Executive of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. He has paved the way for the new Director General in his work towards establishing Amgueddfa Cymru as a World-Class Museum of Learning.

In announcing the appointment, Paul Loveluck, President, Amgueddfa Cymru commented on the contribution he believes Mr Anderson can make to the Museum:

“Amgueddfa Cymru plays a vitally important role in the life of the nation. People feel passionately about it and the national collections in its care. David Anderson shares that passion and will be a leader who will enthuse about the role the Museum can play in Welsh life.

“Given his particular expertise, David Anderson is well placed to take forward the vision on making Amgueddfa Cymru a World-Class Museum of Learning and further enhancing its contribution to the cultural life of Wales.

“David Anderson and his family will soon settle in Amgueddfa Cymru and in Wales – and not solely because of his love for rugby! We look forward to the contribution he will make to the development of the Museum.

”I also wish to thank Michael Houlihan for all he has achieved at Amgueddfa Cymru and for the development of Welsh culture since he took up his post in 2003. We wish him all the very best in his new role as Chief Executive at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.”

An international writer, speaker and advocate on museums, cultural policy and arts education, Mr Anderson will take a particular interest in the Museum’s status as the largest provider of Learning Outside the Classroom in Wales.

“I look forward to leading an organization that, guided over recent years by Mike Houlihan, has become such an important part of life in contemporary Wales,” said Mr Anderson.

“Amgueddfa Cymru’s collections range widely across the arts and sciences, and are unique among museums in the United Kingdom as a record of a nation and the history and aspirations of its peoples. Projects such as the planned new museum at St Fagans and the online People’s Collection represent a vital investment in the country’s educational future.

“As a key contributor to the Welsh Assembly Government’s new cultural strategy, the Museum will work to enhance Wales’s international reputation and contribute to the country’s economic development as it emerges from the recession.”

Heritage Minister for Wales Alun Ffred Jones AM welcomed Mr Anderson’s appointment:

“I’d like to congratulate David Anderson on his new post at Amgueddfa Cymru. The Welsh Assembly Government has an excellent relationship with the Museum - both working towards developing our national museums and sharing Welsh heritage with as many visitors as possible. I look forward to working with the Museum in its new era with Mr Anderson at the helm.”

Sir Mark Jones, Director of the V&A paid tribute to David Anderson’s contribution to the Museum:

“David Anderson has made an enormous contribution to the V&A as a whole during his 20 years here. As Director of our Learning and Interpretation Division, his knowledge and expertise has shaped our services for Museum audiences and he has been central to our cultural policy and diversity work. David also played a key role in developing a strong regional partnership programme, and as co-chair of the Exhibition Road Cultural Group of 15 major institutions he contributed to the creation of a new organization dedicated to the establishment of South Kensington as London's first and greatest cultural quarter. His leadership and commitment in developing the Sackler Centre for Arts Education will be a visible legacy of his time at the V&A."

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales operates seven museums across Wales including National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans: National History Museum, the National Roman Legion Museum, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, the National Wool Museum, the National Slate Museum and the National Waterfront Museum.

Entry to all Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales sites is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.


For more information and photographs please contact Catrin Mears, Corporate Communications Officer on (029) 2057 3185/07920 027067 or email

Notes to Editors

• David Anderson

Having started his career as a secondary school history teacher, David Anderson was attracted to museums by their potential as places for lifelong learning. His museum career began as an Education Officer for five local authority museums at the Royal Pavilion, Art Gallery and Museums, Brighton. He then worked at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, before moving to the V&A and is now an authority on museums, cultural policy and arts education.

He will leave his role as Director of Learning and Interpretation and a member of the Museum’s senior management team at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London to lead Amgueddfa Cymru, bringing his educational expertise with him.

His career highlights include:

• An OBE in 1999 for services to museums and education

• The development of the Exhibition Road Cultural Group in London’s first cultural quarter - which has become an independent limited company with charitable status

• 70 published works including the UK-wide Government report A Common Wealth: Museums in the Learning Age (DCMS, 1999)

• Advisor to the Government over many years on a wide range of initiatives, including Culture Online, Creative Partnerships and a national museum and gallery education strategy

• The creation of the V&A’s acclaimed new £4 million Sackler Centre for Arts Education, which opened in 2008

• The formation of a consortium of nine national museums to create the National Museums Online Learning Project – the only public project that national museums have undertaken together – launched in 2009

• The pioneering digital partnership project Every Object Tells a Story – an early user-contribution website with stories about objects uploaded by the public

• Author of the best-selling children’s books, The Spanish Armada (1988) and the Mutiny on the Bounty (1989).