The German art historian Hartwig Fischer has been appointed (but not confirmed) as the new director of the British Museum replacing the current head Neil MacGregor. The museum is the most popular visitor attraction in Britain, with 6.7 million people coming through the doors in 2014. Fischer will be the first non-British head of the institution since the 1860s. Two previous non British academics have held the top post, then known as principal librarian, at the museum: Joseph Planta, who was British-Swiss, between 1799 – 1827; and Sir Anthony Panizzi, who was British-Italian, between 1856 and 1866. Neil MacGregor will step down as director of the British Museum in December.
Dr Fischer is currently director general of the Dresden State Art Collections and was formerly director of the Folkwang Museum in Essen. Dr Fischer’s appointment has been approved by the museum’s trustees but will require Prime Minister David Cameron’s approval.
Fischer studied 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 cut his teeth at the Kunstmuseum in Basel, where he was curator of 19th Century and modern art from 2001 to 2006. His only work in the UK was a co-curated exhibition of Wassily Kandinsky’s work that was shown at Tate Modern in London in 2006.
Born in Hamburg in 1962, Mr Ficher will have to deal with the ongoing controversy of the Elgin marbles, the 2,500-year-old statues, also known as the Parthenon marbles which have been in the museum since 1816.