News / Art

The chief executive of the Royal Academy has decided to step down

Mike Peel: Wikimedia Commons

In news that’s reverberated all the way down from Mayfair to us here at It’s Nice That, the Royal Academy’s chief executive Charles Saumarez Smith has decided to abdicate his role at the top of one of the world’s most prestigious galleries.

64 year old Saumarez Smith has held the position for the last 11 years, but rather than spending the next few decades pootling around in the shed fixing up sooty, old motorbikes, or getting really into caravans and real ale, he’s set to become senior director of commercial gallery Blain/Southern later this year.

Having previously held senior positions at both the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery, Smith evidently knows a thing or two when it comes to running big, important, globally renowned art spaces. Which might be one of the reasons why he is described by the RA’s president, Christopher Le Brun, as “as the most successful of all Royal Academy secretaries.”

During his tenure there, he oversaw the biggest redevelopment scheme in the RA’s long and storied history. He leaves, he says, “at a time of obvious strength and success.”