The Director-General of National Galleries of Scotland is to leave the role next year, it has been announced today.

Sir John Leighton, who has been Director General since 2006, will step down in February 2024.

The Chair and a committee of Trustees are now in the process of recruiting a successor.

As part of a rebrand, National Galleries of Scotland’s three galleries, The Scottish National Gallery, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art were renamed National, Portrait, and Modern

Major projects during Leighton’s tenure have included the redevelopment of the Portrait gallery, completed in 2011.

Leighton also led the fund-raising campaign for the joint acquisition of two masterpieces by Titian, Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto, with the National Gallery in London.

In 2017, the acquisition of Landseer’s iconic painting The Monarch of the Glen was another notable public fundraising campaign.

Since 2006, attendance at the organisation’s three galleries in Edinburgh has risen by over a million visitors, reaching an average of 2.5 million visits annually in the years before the pandemic.

Later this year, the organisation will open new spaces at the National for its collection of historic Scottish art.

Scottish National Gallery Project set for Summer 2023 completion

Another major project, The Art Works, is currently under development in Granton, North Edinburgh, which will create a space for the conservation and sharing Scotland’s collection of art.

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Sir John Leighton said: “With the completion of the Celebrating Scotland’s Art project at the National later this year and with the Galleries firmly back on track after the disruption of the global pandemic, this seems the right time for me to hand over to new leadership.

“It has been an extraordinary privilege to work with the amazing colleagues, trustees, patrons, Friends and all the supporters of the Galleries and I am immensely proud of our collective achievements across so many activities and projects.

“In these difficult times, and as society continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic, I know that the National Galleries of Scotland will continue to play a key role in society in Scotland, offering inspiration and joy to a very wide public.”

Benny Higgins, Chair of National Galleries of Scotland Board of Trustees, said Leighton “will leave an enduring legacy.”

Higgins continued: “His strong, thoughtful leadership has enabled the Galleries to progress in the best and most challenging of times.”

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