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Sandy Nairne Biography

Sandy Nairne CBE FSA - Writer, Curator, Trustee of the National Trust and Courtauld Collection


Sandy Nairne CBE FSA is a writer and curator and was Chair of Clore Leadership from 2014 to 2019.  He was previously Director of the National Portrait Gallery from 2002-2015.   

Sandy’s early career included experience at the Richard Demarco Gallery in Edinburgh, the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford and Tate Gallery. He was Director of Exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and then co-created the innovative television series and book, State of the Art, for Channel 4 in 1987.  

From 1987 to 1993, Sandy was Director of Visual Arts at the Arts Council, with responsibility for key policy developments in relation to cultural change and diversity. He re-joined Tate in 1994, as Director of Programmes, which included supporting the development of Tate Modern and leading the creation of the Centenary Development of Tate Britain, as well as new initiatives in learning and digital engagement.  

He was formerly a governor of Middlesex University and a member of the Councils of the Royal College of Art and the British School at Rome, and is currently Chair of the Fabric Advisory Committee at St Paul's Cathedral, supports the Maggie's Cancer Care Centres as Chair of the Maggie’s Art Group, and is a trustee of the National Trust and of the Courtauld Collection.  

Sandy has been awarded honorary doctorates from Middlesex University, De Montfort University and the University of London. He is a Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art and an Honorary Fellow of University College, Oxford. His latest book, The Coincidence of Novembers, is an edited selection of his father's writings.

* Image courtesy National Portrait Gallery.

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