Somerset House is hiring a Director of Exhibitions

6 March 2020

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Working at a strategic level but able to get involved in detail, this full- time role is demanding, challenging and offers the successful candidate an opportunity to initiate, manage, curate and deliver ambitious work across Somerset House.

The role will also work with the Director of Somerset House Trust, and closely with the Director of Studios & Producing and Head of Engagement & Skills, to help develop and shape the future creative direction of Somerset House’s cultural activity across its exhibitions, installations, public engagement, aligning with our strategic vision, audience priorities and cultural purpose.

Key responsibilities

Artistic leadership

  • Play a major art in shaping the artistic vision for Somerset House, ensuring the distinctive profile, reputation and success of the organisation continues to grow in London, nationally and internationally.
  • Complement and expand the existing programme across exhibitions, talks and other future initiatives to develop the scope, character and distinctive quality of Somerset House.
  • Actively explore new creative opportunities, taking artistic risk where appropriate to build Somerset House’s profile as a world-class venue that attracts critical acclaim and reaches new audiences.
  • Ensure that Somerset House’s goals around access, diversity, community engagement are integral across all of our cultural offering.
  • Be at the forefront of innovative creative practice with a clear sense of what lies on the international artistic horizon.
  • Maintain a strong track record of working with artists to develop and deliver ambitious projects which break boundaries both in terms of artistic practice but also audience experience.


  • Oversee the creation of an exhibitions, installation and events programme across Somerset House that will reach a wide audience throughout the year.
  • Create a year-round exhibition programme calendar that is distinctive, relevant and responds to the context of the UK and international cultural scene.
  • Build a pipeline of projects, researching and developing new ideas, ensuring that plans are far enough ahead for effective planning.
  • Ensure the programme builds on the idea of Somerset House as a place where projects are researched and developed, as well as presented in their finished form.
  • Work with resident artists, other programming teams, organisations and external partners to develop the cultural offering, ensuring that quality remains high and that Somerset House maintains its distinctive identity.

Collaboration, Partnerships and Network

  • Cultivate a broad network of relationships with artists and creative practitioners, both emerging and established.
  • Work with our existing partners and develop a range of national and international partner cultural organisations to co-commission, enhance our programme and increase touring opportunities.
  • Develop and support an external network of curators and producers to help deliver elements of our programme.

Audience Development

  • Work with the Director of Marketing, Director of PR and Head of Engagement & Skills, to shape and support the audience development strategy, including Key Performance Indicators and target audiences.

Commercial Acumen & Philanthropic Experience

  • Manage the commercial balance of cultural activity, mixing exciting work that attracts good income with riskier activity requiring subsidy and additional investment Work with colleagues to engage and secure funders, brand partnerships and donors; initiate development opportunities and contribute to funding applications whenever possible and required.


  • Work with the Head of Exhibitions Management to lead and develop the Exhibitions team.
  • Work closely and collaboratively with the Live Events, Somerset House Studios, and Engagement & Skills teams.
  • Work with other departments across the organisation to examine the feasibility of projects and ensure that the cultural programme connects with a broad audience and donor base.

Skills and experience required for role

  • A reputation for artistic vision and flair.
  • A demonstrable track record of delivering exhibitions to a range of audiences.
  • An understanding of the importance of artistic innovation and risk-taking, with the ability to communicate this to stakeholders.
  • The ability to think laterally and recognise and develop creative opportunities.
  • A wide range of international contacts and networks and the ability to bring world-class curators and artists of all art forms to Somerset House.
  • Commitment and understanding of audience development, and extending engagement and skills in the arts, especially with young people.
  • A proven track record in successfully managing a team.
  • Previous accountability for the financial success of an organisation or department.
  • A track record of developing new work with artists and creative practitioners and delivering large-scale cultural events, including promoting new works or new approaches to production.
  • Leadership skills with the ability to inspire, challenge, excite and energise.
  • Experience of developing effective partnerships within both public and private sectors.

For more information and to apply for the Director of Exhibitions role see here.