John Barnes appointed Chief Executive of Historic Royal Palaces
John Barnes, Director of Conservation and Learning at Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity responsible for the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland, has been appointed Chief Executive with effect from 1 July 2017. John will succeed Michael Day CVO who retires after 14 years at the helm.
John has been Conservation & Learning Director at Historic Royal Palaces since 2001. In this role, he has been responsible for the conservation, presentation, learning provision and interpretation of the six palaces and collections in the charity’s care. John joined Historic Royal Palaces in 2001 from English Heritage where he held a succession of senior roles including Head of Architecture and Survey (1994-1995), Director of Professional Services, (1995-1998) and Director of Major Projects (1998-2001). Prior to this, he had practised as an architect with a number of leading architectural conservation firms.
John takes up his appointment at an exciting time for Historic Royal Palaces. In 2017, Kensington Palace will unveil two major exhibitions: Diana: Her Fashion Story will open in February, followed by Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte and the Shaping of the Modern World in June. The charity is also undertaking several major re-presentation projects in the next two years, including a transformation of the visitor experience at Hillsborough Castle, the official royal residence in Northern Ireland. Major works will begin onsite in 2017, to create the visitor facilities required to welcome 200,000 visitors a year by 2019. Work will also continue on a fascinating project to restore The Great Pagoda at Kew ahead of its reopening to the public in 2018.
Rupert Gavin, Chairman of Historic Royal Palaces commented, “We are delighted to have recommended John as the new CEO and to have received the Secretary of State’s approval for the appointment. We were pleased by the huge level of interest that the role attracted. We conducted a rigorous and extensive process, at the end of which we were unanimous that John is the right choice for the leadership of Historic Royal Palaces. He will bring the right level of continuity to Michael's extremely successful tenure but also a strong vision for change and evolution to enable us to face the challenges of the future.”
John Barnes said, “Having been at the heart of Historic Royal Palaces for 15 years, I know how special it is and what a privilege it will be to serve as its Chief Executive. Under Michael Day’s leadership, the charity has flourished and I am determined that we will build on this as we pursue our ambitious plans and grasp the opportunities before us. With a belief that we can transform the way that people experience history, a unique business model and a highly talented workforce, I am immensely excited to lead Historic Royal Palaces into a new era.”
Notes for Editors
John Barnes – biography
An architect by profession, John began his career at the Historic Buildings Division of the Greater London Council, before spending the next 10 years in private practice with a number of leading architectural conservation firms.
From 1994 – 2001, John held a succession of senior roles at English Heritage including Head of Architecture and Survey (1994-1995), Director of Professional Services (1995-1998), responsible for advice on property conservation and development and Director of Major Projects (1998-2001), responsible for English Heritage’s largest projects and the national projects programme for their 420 sites.
John has been Conservation & Learning Director at Historic Royal Palaces since 2001. In this role, he has been responsible for the care of the six palaces and the collections, their presentation, interpretation and learning activities, as well as strategic leadership of site developments. He has led the development of the distinctive learning and creative engagement programmes for which the charity is renowned and transformational changes at each of the palaces.
John is an alumni of the Getty Leadership Programme (2005), has taught on the Danish Museums Leadership Programme and mentored on the UEA Leadership course. He is currently a Trustee of Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and Chair of DEMHIST ICOM, a committee of the International Council of Museums, concerned with historic house museums. Since 2008 he has been a Governor of Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’ Academy in Hertfordshire.