Dr Fischer who is currently the director general of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden will take up his new role as director of the British Museum next year and replace current director, Neil MacGregor who will retire from the museum at Christmas. The appointment has also been approved by Prime Minister David Cameron.
The British Museum is the most popular visitor attraction in Britain, welcoming 6.7 million visitors in 2014 and Dr Fischer will be the first non-British head since Italian-born Sir Anthony Panizzi, who held the post of principal librarian between 1856 and 1866.
“On behalf of the Trustees I am very happy to announce the appointment of Hartwig Fischer as director of the British Museum,” said Sir Richard Lambert. “He is one of the outstanding museum directors in the world. He is not only a great scholar, but an experienced administrator and a gifted linguist with a global reputation for rethinking and representing great collections. In Essen he directed one of the leading museums of 20th century art in Germany and in Dresden he directs a museum whose collections are amongst the greatest in the world.”
Fischer said that it was an honour to be asked to become the director of the British Museum and to follow in the footsteps of MacGregor who he said had done more than anybody else to position the Museum as one of modern society´s key institutions, fostering knowledge, understanding, and global citizenship.
“The British Museum has always been a model of public engagement, critical scholarship, and international outreach,” he said. Fischer said he had visited the British Museum on many occasions as a member of the public and had always admired the way every member of the team played their part in making the collection available to the public all over the world. “When I was growing up in Hamburg, Britain was always present in my family life. It has remained so ever since. I never dreamt that I would be invited to be responsible for this great British institution and I am conscious that nobody could fail to grasp what the British Museum represents not only for the UK but for the whole world.”
MacGregor said it made absolute sense for the new director to reflect the global outlook of the museum. “Dr Fischer is a well-respected scholar with extensive experience,” he said. “He will I am sure build on the British Museum’s recent successes to ensure the Museum remains one of the world’s greatest museums.”
Born in Hamburg 14 December 1962 and is married to psychoanalyst Ilaria Piqueras Fischer
Dr Hartwig Fischer is currently the Director General of the “Dresden State Art Collections” (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden) where he is responsible for fourteen museums and four separate institutions in four cities. His focus since his appointment in 2012 has been on modernizing and developing the State Art Collections which date back to the 16th century
The collections are some of Germany’s finest, spanning more than 5,000 years of art, archaeology, anthropology and cultural history
Prior to that appointment, Dr Fischer was Director of the Folkwang Museum in Essen (2006-2012). Whilst in post he oversaw the fundraising and restoration of the historic museum and the construction of a new building and presided over a period of increasing visitor figures and popularity. He began his Museum career at the Kunstmuseum in Basel where he was curator of 19th century and Modern Art from 2001-2006
Dr Fischer has studied the History of Art, History and Classical Archaeology in Bonn, Berlin, Rome and Paris and holds a Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Bonn. He speaks German, English, French and Italian