Dr Maria Balshaw has overseen a period of immense change during her decade as Director of the Whitworth in Manchester. The museum is located on the campus at the University of Manchester and was first founded in the 19th century. It has a collection of over 55,000 works of art and design, from paintings by Blake and Turner to a vast collection of rare wallpapers.
Balshaw has championed a programme that mixes historic, modern and contemporary exhibitions during her tenure as Director, and also led a successful campaign to expand the gallery and reconnect it to the surrounding park.
This £15 million redevelopment saw the museum close in autumn 2013, though its programme continued in pop-up projects across Manchester and elsewhere. Its reopening in February 2015 was heralded a huge success, and, in testament to this, the Whitworth received the Art Fund’s prestigious Museum of the Year prize in July 2015.
In addition to her work at the Whitworth, Balshaw is Director of Manchester City Galleries and Strategic Lead for Culture for Manchester City Council. She is also a board member for Arts Council England, and received a CBE for services to the arts in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2015.