Museum's new director relishes latest challenge
The new director of one of Cornwall's most prestigious art museums is no stranger to the region's cultural scene, writes Frank Ruhrmund.
For two years Louise Connell was marketing co-ordinator for Miracle Theatre and in the summer of 2011, following the sudden death of Brian Stewart, she took over the directorship of Falmouth Art Gallery.
St Just-based Louise has now been appointed director of Penlee House Gallery & Museum in Penzance to succeed Alison Bevan, who is taking up a post at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol.
A mother of two, Louise took her first steps towards a career in art when a student at the University of Sussex where she gained a BA (Hons) degree in the History of Art with French. She was later awarded a post-graduate diploma in art gallery and museum studies from Manchester University.
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For six years she was keeper of Social History at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery in Preston. From there she moved to Nottingham and later became senior manager of Bolton Museum Service. During her time as director of Falmouth Art Gallery, she has become a leading figure in Cornwall's museum sector.
"I'm absolutely thrilled and honoured to have been offered the position of director at Penlee House," she said. "It's a really friendly team with a world class art collection and is an asset to Penzance and to the region as a whole. I know the gallery very well and I always bring my family and friends to visit and I'm now looking forward to my future there."
Although already involved in her new post, Alison Bevan will be continuing at Penlee until mid-September in order to oversee the HLF-financed Graham Sutherland exhibition and associated project.
"After 14 happy years at Penlee, it's with much sadness that I'll be saying goodbye to the many friends I've made," she said. "I've been extremely fortunate to work as part of a talented and dedicated team of staff, volunteers and friends. My new job is very different in some ways, but many of 'our' artists here at Penlee exhibited at the Royal West of England Academy or have been Academicians and we have both lent to and borrowed from the RWA in recent years, so I hope that the RWA and Penlee House will have a close relationship in the future."