Maria Balshaw

Director (representing Manchester Museums and Galleries Partnership) - Manchester City Galleries

Maria Balshaw has been Director of the Whitworth Art Gallery since June 2006. She has coordinated a challenging programme of historic, modern and contemporary exhibitions that capitalise on the Whitworth’s university location as well as having a strong international profile. She has led a successful £12M capital campaign to expand the gallery and reconnect it to the surrounding park, as well as modernise and revitalise the whole gallery. In 2011 she took on the role of Director of Manchester City Galleries alongside her duties at the Whitworth. This dual Directorship represents a unique partnership between the University of Manchester and Manchester City Council, bringing the two institutions and Manchester’s historic and modern art collections into complementary alliance for the first time in their history. Retaining their separate governance arrangements and their distinctive personalities, the two Galleries have evolved complementary programmes and joint exhibition projects that build on the strength of the city collections and a spirit of Manchester radicalism. Together with Manchester Museum they form the Manchester Museums and Galleries Partnership.

In August 2013 Maria also took on the role of Strategic Lead for Culture for Manchester City Council.

Early career experience included working at Arts Council England: West Midlands. In 2004, Maria was selected as one of the inaugural Fellows for the Clore Cultural Leadership programme. Before moving into the cultural sector Maria worked as an academic, publishing a number of books and essays on African-American urban culture, gender and visuality.

In March 2014 Maria was appointed to the National Board of Arts Council England for a period of 3 years.

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