The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin has appointed Caroline Campbell as its new director. Campbell, who will take up the role in November 2022, will be the first female director in the museum’s 158-year history.

Campbell will join the Dublin attraction, which houses a collection of Irish and European art, after having served as the director of collections and research at the National Gallery, London since 2018. She will succeed the museum’s previous director, Sean Rainbird, who will depart from his role as the institution’s head after ten years in September.

National Gallery of Ireland Photography
National Gallery of Ireland Photography
Jack Caffrey, The Pimlico Project

A specialist in Italian Renaissance art, Campbell previously held curatorial positions at The Courtauld Gallery, London and the

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Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Born in the Northern Ireland city Belfast, she holds degrees from from the University of Oxford and the Courtauld Institute of Art.

In a statement, Mary Keane, chair of the Board of Governors and Guardians of the National Gallery of Ireland, said Campbell’s appointment as its first female head would be “groundbreaking,” for the national museum, which in 2018 reopened to the public after a five-year long renovation project. Since the unveiling of its refurbished building, the museum reported its attendance numbers had nearly doubled since 2017.

“Building on Sean Rainbird’s achievements, I look forward to working with the Board and the Gallery’s staff on this world-class collection, making its riches available to as wide an audience as possible both in Ireland and internationally,” said Campbell in a statement.

Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery, London, praised Campbell’s international reputation as a Renaissance art expert, calling her a “gifted art historian and a highly talented communicator,” Finadli added that the role shift will bring, “an even closer collaboration,” with the Ireland museum.