Reflection on the Exceptional Contribution to the World of Art and Design Made by Moira Gemmill

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:

Portrait Miniatures, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery (2005)

Sacred Silver and Stained Glass, The Whiteley Galleries (2005)

The shop (2006)

The café (2006)

Islamic Middle East, The Jameel Gallery (2006)

Sculpture, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries (2007)

The Porter Gallery (2007)

The Sackler Centre for arts education (2008)

Jewellery, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery (2008)

Buddhist Sculpture, The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Gallery (2009)

The Theatre & Performance Galleries (2007)

Gold, Silver & Mosaics, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries (2009)

The Ceramics Galleries Phase I (2009) and the Ceramics Study Galleries (2010)

The Medieval and Renaissance Galleries (2009)

Sculpture 1300-1600 (2010)

Photographs (2011)

The Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre (2011)

Furniture, The Dr Susan Weber Gallery (2012)

The Clothworkers’ Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion (2013)

The Weston Cast Court (2014)

And in the near future, the Europe 1600-1800 galleries, the project to develop Exhibition Road and create a new entrance, courtyard and exhibition galleries and V&A Museum of Design Dundee.

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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One thought on “Reflection on the Exceptional Contribution to the World of Art and Design Made by Moira Gemmill

Christine Pointer:

Visited the V & A yesterday – my husband and I both commented on how it has improved and changed since our visit A number of years ago. The Alexandra MacQueen Exhibition was sublime and the planning and organisation for that must have been huge. We felt that Moira Gemmill must have played a huge part in overseeing this exhibition. We were very sorry to of her accident and demise in the newspapers – a sad loss to her family and the V & A.

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