The Director of Gainsborough’s House, Mark Bills, is to step down from the role leading the museum and gallery after more than a decade.

Recruitment for Bills’ successor has begun, with Bills to leave the role in August 2023 to begin a research project in Victorian art in which he is a specialist.

Bills described his time at Gainsborough’s House as a “hugely rewarding experience”, adding it was “time for me to face a new challenge, and for a new Director to take the museum forward for the next decade.”

During his time as Director, Bills initiated and delivered the capital project, Reviving an Artist’s Birthplace, A National Centre for Gainsborough.

In 2019 the gallery and museum closed, as it set out on the project to upgrade and expand its Grade I listed Georgian townhouse in Suffolk, alongside the construction of a new three-storey wing.

The House, home of painter Thomas Gainsborough, reopened to the public in November 2022, and has since attracted record numbers of visitors, it said.

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A photo of Mark Bills, Director of Gainsborough’s House
Mark Bills, Director of Gainsborough’s House © Gainsborough's House:A.Purkiss

On the project, Bills said: “The aim of the project was to better deliver our mission, be more sustainable and to make a positive impact on the town, which it has done and I am grateful to my colleagues and to the huge number of supporters who helped to make this happen.”

Christy Stewart-Smith, Interim Chairman of Gainsborough’s House, said: “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Mark for his extraordinary achievement in leading this landmark campaign to re-open Gainsborough’s House, bringing a whole new generation of visitors to this unique piece of living art history.

“As we move forward, we are safe in the knowledge that Gainsborough’s House, with its spacious new gallery and state of the art conditions, will at last be able to provide a world class environment worthy of the work of one of this country’s greatest and most loved artists.”

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Image: View of the temporary exhibition Painting Flanders: Flemish Art 1880 – 1914 at Gainsborough’s House © Hufton+Crow