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Dr Gordon Rintoul to step down as Director, National Museums Scotland

Thursday 8 August, 2019

Dr Gordon Rintoul CBE, Director, National Museums Scotland has announced that he will be stepping down in March 2020 after 18 years in the role.

Dr Gordon Rintoul CBE, Director, National Museums Scotland has announced that he will be stepping down in March 2020 after 18 years in the role.

His departure follows the completion in February 2019 of the transformation of the National Museum of Scotland, a 15-year £80 million investment in the visitor experience at the Museum. The project, which created 29 award-winning galleries, vibrant new public and learning spaces and opened up the Museum to a wider range of people, has made the National Museum of Scotland the most visited museum or attraction in the UK outside London.

Bruce Minto OBE, Chair of the Board of Trustees of National Museums Scotland said:

"Under Gordon’s tenure National Museums Scotland has grown in stature and profile, becoming one of the leading museum groups in Europe, if not the world. His leadership has helped to create a strong, dynamic and ambitious organisation which delivers significant cultural, educational and economic impact throughout Scotland and beyond. The transformation of the National Museum of Scotland is, undoubtedly, his flagship achievement; an enormous undertaking which could not have been realised without his vision, talent and determination. The Board of Trustees and I are very proud to have supported him and to be able to share in his tremendous success."

Gordon Rintoul joined National Museums Scotland in 2002 and has overseen the organisation’s development into one of the leading museum groups in Europe.

Responsible for four museums – the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum – his tenure has driven significant growth in visitor numbers, from 1.2 million in 2002 to 3.2 million in 2018, with three museums enjoying their highest ever attendance in 2018.

Gordon has put a focus on strengthening the national collections through important acquisitions. An early achievement was the high-profile acquisition in 2004 of a British Airways Concorde and its transportation by river, land, and sea to the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian. In 2017, the Galloway Hoard, a unique discovery of Viking-age treasures, was saved for the nation by National Museums Scotland which raised the purchase-price of £1.98 million in just 6 months.

National Museums Scotland has also become established as a leader in the sector, active in communities across Scotland and sharing collections, knowledge and expertise to create cultural, social, educational and economic impact beyond the walls of its museums.

Behind the scenes, the development of National Museums Collection Centre in Granton, North Edinburgh has created an internationally important resource for research, conservation, collections access and specialist training, which underpins the museum group’s national and international activities. The Collection Centre is also at the heart of

a partnership project to regenerate the Granton waterfront area in north Edinburgh.

Gordon Rintoul said:

“None of these achievements would have been possible without the extensive and committed work of our talented and dedicated staff and volunteers, and our committed supporters whether as donors, advisers or simply through encouraging our work. I am deeply indebted to them all for standing alongside me on this hugely enjoyable journey.”

Gordon was awarded a CBE for Services to Museums in 2012 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2018.

Further information from Patricia Convery, Press Office, National Museums Scotland on 0131 247 4386 or email

Notes to editors

  1. National Museums Scotland is one of the leading museum groups in Europe, caring for a multi-disciplinary collection that is one of the most diverse in the world. Our four museums are the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the National War Museum within Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian and the National Museum of Rural Life near East Kilbride. We reach out across Scotland, the UK and internationally through loans, touring exhibitions, research and partnerships and offer advice, support and training to museums across Scotland. The National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh, is an internationally significant centre for collections research, access, storage and specialist training.
    Twitter: @NtlMuseumsScot
    Instagram: @NationalMuseumsScotland
  2. Bheireadh Oifis nam Meadhanan eadar-theangachadh Gàidhlig den bhrath-naidheachd seachad do bhuidhinn mheadhanan bharantaichte. Cuiribh fios do dh'Oifis nam Meadhanan airson bruidhinn air cinn-latha freagarrach.
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