Penelope Curtis

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Penelope Curtis
Penelope Curtis British museum director.jpg
museum director
NationalityUnited Kingdom
EducationOxford University
OccupationArts administrator
EmployerMuseu Calouste Gulbenkian
Known forleading Tate Britain

Penelope Curtis is a British arts administrator, director of Lisbon's Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, and director of Tate Britain from 2010 to 2015.


Educated first in a state school and then at Oxford University, she took "Sculpture after Rodin" as the subject of her doctorate.[1]

In 1994 she took on the leadership of the sculpture collection at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. She left in 2010 to take on the role of directing the Tate Britain art gallery.[2]

Curtis presenting at the Said Business School in 2011

In March 2015, it was announced that she would leave London's Tate Britain after five years in charge.[3]

Curtis had faced some criticism which some like Nick Serota and Portuguese colleagues had put down to misogyny, but that was not the reason for her departure. She had been concerned that the ate had to put on exhibitions that had popular appeal because these exhibitions balanced the books given the national policy of free entry to museums, but this was not the whole reason either. Curtis said that she left because she was attracted by the opportunity of running the privately funded Gulbenkian Museum.[4] The Portuguese museum attracted only just over half the visitors as Tate Britain but it had ten curators and it was backed by a large and generous foundation.[4]

Curtis has been spending time trying to marry together the modern art collection at the adjacent Centre de Arte Moderna with the museum collection of 6,000 objects. Curtis has used the challenge to integrate the Islamic collection gathered from several Arabic countries in a new "crossings gallery" in 2018. Curtis notes that the new gallery will be the first substantial change in the museum since 1969.[4] Curtis has noted that with an annual budget of 500,000 Euros it will be necessary for the museum to concentrate of Portuguese culture rather than aspiring to an international collection.[5]


  1. ^ "Penelope Curtis: Matriarch of the museum". The Independent. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  2. ^ "Curtis, Dr Penelope, (born 24 Aug. 1961), Director, Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, since 2015", Who's Who, Oxford University Press, 1 December 2010, doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u250791
  3. ^ Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (31 March 2015). "Tate Britain director Penelope Curtis to step down after five years in charge". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Former Tate Britain director Penelope Curtis remaps Lisbon's Gulbenkian". Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  5. ^ Salema, Isabel. "Penelope Curtis: "O dinheiro não é suficiente para fazer uma colecção internacional"". PÚBLICO (in Portuguese). Retrieved 20 November 2019.