Hartwig Fischer Appointed as Director of the British Museum


Hartwig Fischer British Museum Director

Sir Richard Lambert (Chair of the Trustees of the British Museum) this morning announced to staff that Dr Hartwig Fischer had been appointed Director of the British Museum.

Dr Hartwig Fischer, who is currently the Director General of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, will take up the post in Spring 2016. The current Director, Neil MacGregor, will retire from the Museum at Christmas.

The appointment has been confirmed by the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron.

Chairman of the Trustees Sir Richard Lambert said, “On behalf of the Trustees I am very happy to announce the appointment of Hartwig Fischer (currently Director General of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden) as Director of the British Museum. He is one of the outstanding museum directors in the world. He is not only a great scholar, but an experienced administrator and a gifted linguist with a global reputation for rethinking and representing great collections. In Essen he directed one of the leading museums of 20th-century art in Germany and in Dresden he directs a museum whose collections are amongst the greatest in the world.”

“Neil MacGregor has been a brilliant Director of the British Museum and has transformed its presence across the world. The Trustees are confident Dr Fischer will be a worthy successor.”

Hartwig Fischer said: “When I was growing up in Hamburg, Britain was always present in my family life. It has remained so ever since. I never dreamt that I would be invited to be responsible for this great British institution and I am conscious that nobody could fail to grasp what the British Museum represents not only for the UK but for the whole world. For many years I have looked to the British Museum as a model of public engagement, critical scholarship, and international outreach. I am of course daunted by such a responsibility but I know that nobody directs such a museum alone and the colleagues of the British Museum are admired and envied around the world. I am greatly looking forward to working with them. I have visited the British Museum on many occasions as a member of the public and have always admired the way every member of the team plays their part in making the collection available to the public all over the world. It´s an honour to be asked to become the Director of the British Museum and to follow in the footsteps of Neil MacGregor, who has done more than anybody else to position the Museum as one of modern society´s key institutions, fostering knowledge, understanding, and global citizenship”.

Neil MacGregor said “Hartwig Fischer is the perfect choice to run the British Museum. The Museum, its staff, its Trustees and its unparalleled collection is truly international. It therefore makes absolute sense for the new Director to reflect this global outlook. Dr Fischer is a well-respected scholar with extensive experience. He will, I am sure, build on the British Museum’s recent successes to ensure the Museum remains one of the world’s greatest museums.”


Dr Hartwig Fischer is currently the Director General of the Dresden State Art Collections (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden) where he is responsible for fourteen museums and four separate institutions in four cities. His focus since his appointment in 2012 has been on modernizing and developing the State Art Collections, which date back to the 16th century. The collections are some of Germany’s finest, spanning more than 5,000 years of art, archaeology, anthropology and cultural history.

Prior to that appointment, Dr Fischer was Director of the Folkwang Museum in Essen (2006–2012). Whilst in post he oversaw the fundraising and restoration of the historic museum and the construction of a new building, and presided over a period of increasing visitor figures and popularity. He began his museum career at the Kunstmuseum in Basel, where he was curator of 19th-century and Modern Art from 2001–2006.

Dr Fischer has studied the 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 speaks German, English, French and Italian.

He was born in Hamburg 14 December 1962 and is married to psychoanalyst Ilaria Piqueras Fischer.

For further information please contact the Press Office on 020 7323 8394 / 8522 or communications@britishmuseum.org