Sir John Soane’s Museum appoints Barbican arts head as new director

The Barbican Centre later apologised to both Palestinian online radio station Radio Alhara and to Resolve Collective over the affair.

The Lincoln Inn Fields museum has attracted record numbers of visitors over the past year.

Gompertz has served as the Barbican’s artistic director since mid-2021. Responding to his departure, Barbican chief executive Claire Spencer said: ‘Will is known to everybody at the Barbican for his boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm.

In an announcement on Friday (4 August), Sir John Soane’s Museum named Gompertz as its new director, a post he will take up on 1 January 2024.

Gompertz and Spencer said the centre would work to ‘understand the details of what happened’.


The appointment follows the announcement earlier this year that the Soane’s current boss, Bruce Boucher, is to step down. Boucher has served as director for eight years, overseeing the museum’s reopening post-Covid and the unveiling of Soane’s drawing office to the public in May this year.

News of Gompertz’ exit from the Barbican comes in the wake of Resolve Collective’s decision to pull its show, Them’s the Breaks, from the Barbican Centre in June. Resolve Collective said it had decided to remove the exhibition from the Barbican’s Curve Gallery after a series of ‘hostile’ experiences with the institution’s staff and a row over censorship.

Spencer and Gompertz said in a joint statement: ‘During the run of their exhibition, Resolve Collective and their collaborators have been subject to a number of unacceptable experiences.

‘He leaves behind him a strong legacy of projects delivered and still in development and his positive impact on the Barbican will be felt for a long time to come.’

‘The generosity of spirit he has shown me personally in the 15 months we’ve worked together is unmatched. We’re very sad to say goodbye to him but excited to see what he will achieve in his new role, and we wish him all the best.

‘We are deeply sorry for the pain caused to the members of Resolve Collective and those involved in their exhibition. Nobody should have to work in a place where they don’t feel welcome and respected.’