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Mark Hallett has been appointed director of the Courtauld Institute of Art, replacing Deborah Swallow who is stepping down after 19 years. Hallett is director of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, part of Yale University and a partner to the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut.

Welsh-born Hallett takes up the post of Märit Rausing director August next year, joining as Director-designate from next April. The Courtauld Institute, a self-governing college of the University of London, is the UK’s only higher education institution to focus solely on the history and conservation of art.

Prior to his position at the Paul Mellon Centre, Hallett was head of the history department at the University of York. Hallett has been visiting scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge (2013–14) and a visiting professor at The Courtauld (2014–16) where he also received his PhD in 1996. Last year, he was appointed a member of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest which advises the UK government on the export of cultural property.

Crucially his scholarly research has focused on British art from the seventeenth century onwards with publications such as The Spectacle of Difference: Graphic Satire in the Age of Hogarth (Yale University Press, 1999), Reynolds: Portraiture in Action (Yale University Press, 2014) and Frank Auerbach: Drawings of People (Paul Mellon Center/Yale), which he co-edited. “He is also interested in using film as an art-historical medium and is currently working on a major film devoted to Hew Locke’s spectacular The Procession [on show at Tate Britain],” a statement announcing his appointment says.

Hallett will oversee the next phase of Courtauld Connects, a £57m redevelopment project. In January 2019, the institute relocated to a temporary campus at Vernon Square, King’s Cross. Phase 1 of Courtauld Connects was completed over the summer with the move of the conservation department back to Somerset House, the Courtauld’s base.

The rest of the project is due to be completed in 2025 when all of The Courtauld’s teaching and research operations will return from the King’s Cross campus. In another major move, The Courtauld announced earlier this year that it will enter into a ten-year “strategic partnership” with its neighbour on The Strand, King’s College, London.

In the most recent Guardian University guide, The Courtauld had slipped to ninth place in the “history of art” league table, below the universities of Kent and Warwick. Additionally, in late 2019, academic staff manned picket lines at the campus, taking industrial action over pay and pensions. According to the institution’s 2020/21 annual report, The Courtauld’s total income in 2021 was £34.5m, which includes £6.7m from tuition fees and £3.2m via research grants and contracts.

In terms of widening access, the annual report states that “The Courtauld aims to transform the perception of art history and conservation in the UK to become a mainstream subject studied by people from all backgrounds… by recruiting the best possible students with the highest academic and intellectual potential, regardless of their ethnic, economic or social background, who will gain the most from studying at The Courtauld.”

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