After 11 years at the Royal Academy of Arts, Sir Charles Saumarez Smith will leave his post as the revered art school’s secretary and chief executive to become senior director of the gallery Blain | Southern, which has locations in both London and Berlin. Saumarez Smith—a curator with an extensive track record leading major institutions—has received plenty of praise and recognition over the years, including being knighted in honor of his work in the arts earlier this year. At the Academy, he oversaw a £56 million ($73.7 million) redevelopment of the London museum and art school on the occasion of its 250th anniversary and oversaw exhibitions of artists including Anish Kapoor and David Hockney.
“History is likely to judge him as the most successful of all Royal Academy secretaries,” the Academy’s president, artist Christopher Le Brun, told the Guardian. Prior to joining the Academy in 2007, he was the director of the U.K.’s National Portrait Gallery from 1994 to 2002 and its National Gallery from 2002 to 2007.
For Blain | Southern, bringing on the revered museum leader is a powerful move. “Having headed up three of the most prominent art institutions in the UK, if not the world, Charles brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will benefit our artists, the gallery programme and external exhibitions worldwide,” Harry Blain and Graham Southern said in a joint statement.
The Royal Academy will begin its search for a successor in September.