Beamish, The Living Museum of the North has announced the appointment of Rhiannon Hiles as its Chief Executive.
Rhiannon has been appointed by Beamish’s Board of Trustees, following a comprehensive recruitment process, and will take up the post immediately, leading the museum’s talented team of staff and volunteers, strategic development and operations.
Rhiannon was the museum’s Deputy Director, and has extensive curatorial, commercial, operational and development expertise, combined with a great passion for museums, heritage and the North East.
Rhiannon said: “I am absolutely delighted to be taking up the role of CEO at Beamish, I was brought up in the North East and I am very proud of the region’s heritage. I’m passionate about the role Beamish plays in people’s lives, our communities and our reach nationally and internationally.
“Our people are the heart of Beamish and I am very much looking forward to working further with the museum’s staff, volunteers, stakeholders and partners. I am honoured and excited to be leading Beamish into its next phase and towards an even brighter future.”
Rhiannon has been leading Beamish during the COVID-19 pandemic and the museum’s recovery as it pushes forward with its exciting and innovative developments, including the £20million Remaking Beamish project, which includes a 1950s Town, 1950s Farm and expansion of The 1820s Landscape, including overnight accommodation.
With over 29 years’ experience in the culture sector and a strong track record, Rhiannon has extensive experience in devising and implementing internationally-renowned, award-winning engagement and interpretation programmes, introducing large scale events and festivals, and creating year-round visitor offers, culminating in over 800,000 visitors to Beamish in 2019.
Rhiannon leads on the museum’s strategic development which currently includes the museum’s largest capital development, Remaking Beamish, and she was instrumental in reviewing and restarting the project as a result of the impact of COVID-19.
Working with national and international museum colleagues, Rhiannon is at the forefront of leading open air and independent museum practice, focused on sharing ideas, knowledge and supporting talent and progression across the sector.
Rhiannon sits on sector boards and councils, is a school governor, Museums Association mentor and Director of a local Learning Trust.
Cllr John-Paul Stephenson, from Beamish’s board of trustees, said: “The board was determined to make a strong appointment to the role of CEO, and with the help of chosen specialist head-hunters, Saxton Bampfylde, conducted a wide-ranging search nationally and internationally. There was a strong, diverse field of candidates, and after a two-stage process, including external stakeholders, the board concluded that the right person to lead Beamish into the future was Rhiannon Hiles, the current Deputy Director.
“Rhiannon’s background in architectural design history and her MA in Museum Studies have been strengthened by her professional experience, including the prestigious Oxford Cultural Leaders Programme, appointment to the board of the Association of European Open Air Museums, and being an active member of the Museums Association, Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, National Museums Directors’ Council and the Association of Independent Museums. She has successfully led the Beamish team through the pandemic, drawing on her extensive experience, her incredible passion for the museum, and the respect of staff, volunteers and stakeholders.
“The museum plays a major role in our region’s culture and economy, so the board are thrilled to appoint such a strong candidate as CEO. Under Rhiannon’s vision and exemplary leadership, we can all be excited about some very good times ahead.”
Beamish has recently reopened its indoor exhibits and attractions under Step 3 of the government’s COVID-19 roadmap and has a range of COVID-19 Secure health and hygiene measures in place. For more information about Beamish, visit www.beamish.org.uk.