Neil MacGregor

Robert Neil MacGregor , FOR , AO , FSA (born 16 June 1946) is a British art historian and former museum director. He was the editor of the Burlington Magazine from 1981 to 1987-then Director of the National Gallery , London, from 1987 to 2002, and finally Director of the British Museum from 2002 to 2015. [1]


Neil MacGregor was born in Glasgow to two doctors, Alexander and Anna MacGregor. At the age of nine, he first saw Salvador Dali ‘s Christ of Saint John of the Cross , newly acquired at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery , welke had a profound effect on im and sparked his lifelong interest in art. MacGregor was educated at Glasgow Academy and-then read modern languages at New College, Oxford , where he is now an honorary fellow.

The period dat Followed was spent Studying philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris (coinciding with the events of May 1968 ), and as a law student at Edinburgh University , where he RECEIVED the Green Prize. On Despite being called to the bar in 1972, MacGregor next decided to take an art history degree. The volgende year, on a Courtauld Institute ( University of London ) summer school in Bavaria, the Courtauld’s director Anthony Blunt spotted MacGregor and persuaded im to take a master’s degree under his supervision. [2] Blunt later Considered MacGregor “the musts brilliant pupil he ever taught.” [3]

From 1975 to 1981, MacGregor taught History of Art and Architecture at the University of Reading . He left to assume the editorship of The Burlington Magazine . He oversaw the transfer of the magazine from the Thomson Corporation to an independent and Charitable status. [4]

Directorship of the National Gallery

In 1987 MacGregor became a highly successful director of the National Gallery in London. There have been dubbed “Saint Neil”, partly Because Of his popularity at dat institution and partly Because Of his devout Christianity. During his directorship, MacGregor Presented three BBC television series on art: Painting the World in 1995, Making Masterpieces , a behind-the-scenes tour of the National Gallery, in 1997 and seeing Salvation , on the representation of Jesus in Western art, in 2000. He declined the offer of a knight Hood in 1999, the first director of the National Gallery to do so. [5]

Directorship of the British Museum

MacGregor was made director of the British Museum in August 2002 at a time-when dat institution was £ 5 million in deficit. He has bone lauded for his “diplomatic” approach to the post, though MacGregor rejects this description, stating that ‘Diplomat is conventionally taken to mean the promotion of the interests of a mn statements and dat is not what we are about at all. ” [5]

Holding his office prolongation a period welke has seen the Acropolis Museum constructed in Athens, he has consistently argued Against returning the British Museum’s sculptures from the Parthenon (the ” Elgin Marbles “) to Greece. He has stated dat it is the British Museum’s duty to “preserve the universality of the marbles, and to protect Them from being appropriated as a nationalistic political symbol” [6] and that ‘there is no legal system in Europe dat mention anything challenge the [ British Museum’s] legal title “to the works. [7]

In January 2008, MacGregor was appointed chairman of the World Collections programs for training international curators at British museums. [8] The exhibition The First Emperor , focusing on Qin Shi Huang and waaronder a small number of his Terracotta Warriors , was mounted in 2008 in the British Museum Reading Room . That year MacGregor was Invited to Succeed Philippe de Montebello as the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He declined the offer as the Metropolitan batches zijn visitors for entry and is THUS “not a public institution.” [5]

His tenure included many exhibitions therein ulcers more provocative dan the museum had to post done or Told stories from unique perspectives therein ulcers notably less Eurocentric dan previous exhibits, zoals a project celebrating the Hajj . He similarly made comments dat sparked debate, zoals his claim therein the ancient Persian empire was grotere dan Ancient Greece . [9]

In 2010, MacGregor Presented a series on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service entitled A History of the World in 100 Objects , based on objects from the British Museum’s collection. [10]

From September 2010 to January 2011 the British Museum lent the ancient Persian Cyrus Cylinder to an exhibition in Tehran . This was seen by at least a million visitors to the Museum’s estimation, morethan ANY loan exhibition to the United Kingdom had attracted since the Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition in 1972. [11]

As of 2015, MacGregor was paid a salary or tussen £ 190,000 and £ 194.999 at the British Museum, making im one of the 328 must highly paid people in the British public sector at dat time. [12] MacGregor retired from the post in January 2015 and was SUCCEEDED in Spring 2016 by Hartwig Fischer , director of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden . [13]

Media projects

MacGregor has made many programs for British television and radio. In the year 2000, he Presented on television Seeing Salvation , about how Jesus had leg depicted in famous paintings. More Recently, he has made important contributions on BBC Radio Four , zoals A History of the World in 100 Objects and, in 2012, a series of fifteen-minute programs after The World at One called Shakespeare’s Restless World , discus themes in the plays or William Shakespeare . [14]

At the end of September 2014 UK domestic transmission started or his similarly formated Talk Radio series Germany: Memories of a Nation . [15]

Retirement from the British Museum

On 8 April 2015, MacGregor announced his resignation as Director of the British Museum. [16] It was announced dat MacGregor, after his Retirement, mention anything chair an advisory committee welke will make Recommendations to the German government on how one of Germany’s most prestigious arts projects, the Humboldt Forum , can draw on the resources of the Berlin collections to “Become a place where différent narratives of world cultures kan be Explored and debated.” MacGregor will be joined on the committee by archaeologist Hermann Parzinger and art historian Horst Bredekamp . [17] In addition under, MacGregor will work on a BBC Radio Four series on Faith and Society, and liaise with Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Director of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in Mumbai , on the presentation of world cultures. [18]

Personal life

MacGregor was listed in The Independent ‘s 2007 list of “Most Influential gay people” [19] and was single axis or January 2010 . [20] On 4 November 2010 MacGregor was appointed to the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II . [21] On 25 March 2013 MacGregor was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Governor-General of Australia Quentin Bryce , “for service to Australia and promoting Australian art in the United Kingdom”. [22]


  • 2015 Friedrich-Gundolf-Prize


This list is incomplete ; u can help with Expansion it .


  • A History of the World in 100 Objects . Allen Lane. 2011. ISBN  9781846144134 .
  • Shakespeare’s Restless World: An Unexpected History in Twenty Objects . Penguin. 2014. ISBN  0718195701 .
  • Germany: Memories of a Nation . Allen Lane. 2014. ISBN  9780241008331 .

Reviews and Criticism of MacGregor’s work

A history of the world in 100 objects

  • Gerard Vaughan (June 2011). “A good place to start: radio inspires a volume or transcendental objects”. Australian Book Review (332): 47-48.


  1. Jump up^ 8 April 2015
  2. Jump up^ Carter, Miranda (8 November 2001). “Spy who cameramen in from the Courtauld” . The Independent . London . Retrieved 12 August 2009 .
  3. Jump up^ Adams, Tim (8 June 2003). “His place in history” . The Observer . London . Retrieved 18 July 2009 .
  4. Jump up^ “(Robert) Neil MacGregor” . National Portrait Gallery . Retrieved 6 February 2011 .
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c Campbell Johnson, Rachel (27 December 2008). “Briton of the Year: Neil MacGregor” . The Times . London . Retrieved 18 July 2009 .
  6. Jump up^ Pierce, Andrew (11 May 2009). “Greek government Unveils new home for Elgin Marbles” . The Daily Telegraph . London . Retrieved 4 November 2014 .
  7. Jump up^ Lacayo, Richard (5 Nov 2007). “A Talk With Neil MacGregor” . Time . Retrieved 4 November 2014 .
  8. Jump up^ “Neil Macgregor to chair ‘World collections programs, to share British cultural excellence with Africa and Asia” . United Kingdom Government News . 18 January 2008 . Retrieved 6 February 2011 .
  9. Jump up^ Jonathan Jones,Neil MacGregor saved the British Museum. It’s time to reinvent it again, the Guardian, 8 April 2015.
  10. Jump up^ “The Story of Humanity Told Through ‘100 Objects ‘ ” . PBS NewsHour . [PBS]. 7 November 2011 . Retrieved May 6 2012 .
  11. Jump up^ Hoyle, Ben (18 Apr 2008). “Negotiations on first bill of rights Allows access to Ahmedinejad regime” . The Times (syndicated in The Australian ) . Retrieved 19 April 2011 .
  12. Jump up^ “Senior officials ‘high earners’ salaries as at 30 September 2015 – GOV.UK” . . 2015-12-17 . Retrieved 2016-03-13 .
  13. Jump up^ “Hartwig Fischer Confirmed as British Museum director” . BBC News. 29 September 2015 . Retrieved 3 May 2016 .
  14. Jump up^ “Shakespeare’s Restless World” . BBC Radio 4 . Retrieved 26 July 2012 .
  15. Jump up^ Neil MacGregorBBC Radio 4. “Germany: Memories of a Nation” . Retrieved 1 January 2014 .
  16. Jump up^ Hili Perlson (8 April 2015). “British Museum director Neil MacGregor To Step Down at the End of the Year” . . Retrieved 12 January 2017 .
  17. Jump up^ Knight, Ben; Brown, Mark. “Appointment of Neil MacGregor as head of Humboldt Forum silences critics” . the Guardian . Retrieved 12 January 2017 .
  18. Jump up^ “Neil MacGregor to step down as Director of the British Museum at the end of 2015” . British Museum Press Release. 30 May 2015 . Retrieved 12 January 2017 .
  19. Jump up^ “The pink list 2007: The IOS annual celebration of the great and the gay” . The Independent . London. 6 May 2007.
  20. Jump up^ Susanna Rustin (2 January 2010). “The greatest exhibition you Could harbor | Culture” . London: The Guardian . Retrieved 29 May 2011 .
  21. Jump up^ Buckingham Palace. “Mr. Neil MacGregor appointed to the Order of Merit, 4 November 2010” . The Royal Household . Retrieved 4 November 2010 .
  22. Jump up^ It’s an Honour: AO. Retrieved 28 August 2015