The University of Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery has announced Sook-Kyung Lee as its next director. Lee will arrive to the British institution from London’s Tate Modern, where she serves as senior curator of international art. She will assume her new position in August, at which time she will become the university’s honorary professor of transcultural curating. Lee fills the role left vacant after the Alistair Hudson was ousted as director of the Whitworth in February 2022 for allowing a statement of solidarity with Palestine, part of a work by the Turner Prize–winning investigative agency Forensic Architecture, to appear in an exhibition there.
Nalin Thakkar, Manchester University’s vice-president for social responsibility, expressed her delight at Lee’s arrival, noting in a statement that it offered “a fantastic opportunity to build on the Whitworth’s international renown as a leading cultural institution, whilst working closely with the University, the city of Manchester, our community partners and other stakeholders to strengthen its current focus and explore new exciting directions for the future.”
Among the exhibitions Lee curated while at Tate are “Richard Bell: Embassy” (2023), “A Year in Art: Australia 1992” (2021–23), and a major survey of the work of Nam June Paike (2019–20), which subsequently traveled to institutions in Europe, Asia, and the US. Since 2019, she has helmed a collaborative research initiative between Tate and Hyundai Motor aimed at investigating global art histories from new perspectives. In 2021, she was named artistic director of the Fourteenth Gwangju Biennale, which opened in April.
“It is a huge honor for me to take up the role of director at the Whitworth, one of the most innovative and audience-focused art institutions in the UK and internationally,” said Lee in a statement. “I have admired the Whitworth’s commitment to work with local communities and to use art for positive social change. I would like to further develop the gallery in its artistic rigour and social impacts and to widen its global connections, along with the gallery’s dedicated staff and the University of Manchester.”