New Director for Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

03 February 2021

"As a proud North Easterner I am delighted to have the honour of working with such an amazing collection of museums, galleries and archives..."

Keith Merrin

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) is delighted to announce the appointment of Keith Merrin as its new Director.  

Keith has been Chief Executive of Sunderland Culture since January 2017, an organisation formed by the University of Sunderland, Sunderland City Council and the Sunderland Music Arts and Culture Trust to operate cultural venues and deliver major projects, a role he combined with being Director of the National Glass CentreWhilst in Sunderland he has worked on major exhibitions and events including the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition, Danny Boyle’s Pages of the Sea and Sunderland’s bid to be UK City of Culture.   

He was previously Chief Executive of Woodhorn Charitable Trust (2008-2016) where he oversaw the first showing of the Poppies: Weeping Window exhibition outside of London and Chief Executive of Bede’s World in South Tyneside (2002-2008) where he spearheaded Wearmouth-Jarrow’s successful campaign to secure the UK’s World Heritage Site nomination. He also worked at a national level for nature conservation charity The Wildlife Trusts having started his working life with Northumberland Wildlife Trust based at what is now the Great North Museum. 

TWAM is one of the country’s largest museum and archive services and has a strong reputation for its work with children and young people and for its outreach work focused on adult health and wellbeing. It not only delivers a locally focused service but has a respected national and international reputation. Although all its museums and galleries are currently closed TWAM has continued to deliver exhibition and collections content and activities through its website and social media. 

Building on the work of the retiring Director Iain Watson and in partnership with TWAM’s Strategic Board and Leadership Team, this new appointment means TWAM is well placed to develop its plans to welcome back visitors and the communities it works with, when it is safe to do so. Keith will take up his position at the end of April 2021. 

Keith Merrin said: 

“As a proud North Easterner I am delighted to have the honour of working with such an amazing collection of museums, galleries and archives. They not only represent the stories and culture of our communities but also showcase some of the most important artworks, artefacts and heritage sites anywhere in the country to audiences from all over the World. I am passionate about ensuring that everyone in our communities has the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from culture and look forward to working with the brilliant staff and volunteers at TWAM and its local authority and university partners to find new ways to make that happen.” 

Right Hon Baroness Joyce Quin, Chair of TWAM Strategic Board said: 

I am delighted at Keith’s appointment.  His lifelong commitment to the North East and his deep knowledge as well as huge experience of the museums sector will be vital as we move forward at this challenging time.  I am confident that he will be a worthy successor to Iain Watson’s inspirational record of service to TWAM.”