As we reflect on the exceptional contribution made by Moira Gemmill, the V&A’s former Design Director who died recently, to the V&A and the world of art and design more broadly, we wanted to share the speech made by V&A Chairman Sir Paul Ruddock at her leaving event in January 2015.
“It is always hard to say good bye to someone as talented as Moira. Moira has been with the V&A 13 years, joining as Head of Design and then taking over from Gwyn Miles in 2005 as Director of Design and FuturePlan. And what a 13 years it has been. And what a transformation in the fabric of the V&A.
Future plan was well under way when Moira joined us: the British Galleries had just been completed and showed us all what modern lighting, cases and design could achieve. But since 2001 there have been 45 Future plan projects completed and in the 10 years she has been in charge we have seen the following projects undertaken, some at the beginning in conjunction with Gwyn:
The shop (2006)
The café (2006)
The Porter Gallery (2007)
Sculpture 1300-1600 (2010)
The Weston Cast Court (2014)
WOW! I don’t think that there is a museum in the world which has come close to this amount of renovation and construction. And it is not just about the building work: the quality and variety of design have been exemplary. The galleries look beautiful. The original architecture of the building has been revealed: lunettes unblocked; false ceilings removed; linoleum ripped up to reveal beautiful original mosaic floors. This is what great leadership can achieve and Moira has been a great leader.
So, Moira, on behalf of all the board, the staff and the more than 3 million visitors to this museum, I thank you wholeheartedly for your extraordinary work and wish you continued success as you move to the Royal Palaces.”
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