Neil Cossons

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Sir Neil Cossons OBE FSA FMA FRGS (born 15 January 1939) is Pro-Provost and Chairman of Council of the Royal College of Art, of which he has been a Governor since 1989. From 1986 to 2000 he was the Director of the Science Museum, London, UK, the National Museum of Science & Industry (NMSI). (The NMSI includes the National Railway Museum, York and the National Media Museum, Bradford (Previously the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television)) He was the first Director of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust from 1971 and then at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich from 1983. From 1989 to 1995 and 1999 to 2000 he was an English Heritage Commissioner. In 2000 he took over as Chairman of English Heritage, a post he held to 2007.[1]

The son of a Nottinghamshire headmaster, Neil Cossons studied historical geography at university.[2]

Cossons was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1982 and knighted for services to museums and the heritage in 1994. He was President of the Museums Association 1982/3 and is a Fellow of the Museums Association (FMA) and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He was one of the founders of the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) and its Chairman from 1978 to 1983 when he was appointed President, a position he still holds. A member of the Newcomen Society for the history of engineering and technology since 1963, Cossons was President from 2001-2003 and awarded the society's Dickinson memorial medal in 2001. Other appointments include: Member of the Design Council (1990-1994); President of the Association for Industrial Archaeology (1977-1980); Non-executive director of British Waterways Board (1995-2001); Collier Professor in the Public Understanding of Science in the University of Bristol (2001-2002); President of the Royal Geographical Society (2003-2006) He has been an Honorary Professor at the University of Birmingham since 1994. Cossons holds honorary doctorates from thirteen British universities and was awarded the President's medal of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1993.

Cossons is "Britain's leading authority on the industrial heritage" and has advised on matters of conservation and management widely in the UK and overseas. He has published and broadcast extensively in this field and is a sought after speaker internationally. His interests include design, manufacturing, industrial archaeology and the history of engineering and technology.

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Cultural offices
Preceded by
Dame Margaret Weston
Director of the Science Museum
1986–2000
Succeeded by
Dr Lindsay Sharp