Palace House Appoints New Chief Executive


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Professor Steven Parissien takes the reins at National Heritage Centre for Horse Racing and Sporting Art

Palace House, The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art, is delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Steven Parissien, as its new Chief Executive.

Parissien will assume the role in June 2019, taking over from Chris Garibaldi, who is stepping down in order to embark on full-time research at the University of Cambridge.
Beginning in 2010, Garibaldi delivered the ambitious £19m project to create a national gallery of British sporting art – alongside a new national horseracing museum – in the palace Charles II originally built for himself in Newmarket, Suffolk. In its first year (2016), Palace House attracted around 30,000 visitors, was short-listed for the Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2017 and in 2018 became an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation.
Parissien was Director (and subsequently Chief Executive and Artistic Director) of Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park in Warwickshire from 2009 to November 2018. Since then he has completed a project as a directorial consultant at the Bata Museum in Toronto, Canada.
Under his leadership, Compton Verney saw its visitor numbers soar, whilst the historic manor house and Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown landscape were extensively restored. Parissien also introduced a series of critically-acclaimed and hugely popular exhibitions including Turner and Constable (2013), Canaletto in Britain (2015), Britain in the Fifties (2016), and the Whistler and Nature (2018). Parissien also introduced a number of commercial initiatives, including a lucrative wedding and corporate hire business. At the same time, Compton Verney’s Education and Learning team developed extensive relations with local schools, children’s centres, care homes and other organisations – enabling under-engaged and under-represented groups to access high-quality artistic experiences on their doorstep.
Parissien was also instrumental in building partnerships with museums, galleries and arts organisations across the UK, whilst also forging strong links with some of the country’s most respected higher education institutions, most notably the Universities of Oxford (whose partnership enabled the re-launch of the Victorian Women’s Library in 2017), Warwick and Coventry. The latter awarded Parissien a Visiting Professorship in 2015.
Announcing the appointment of his successor, Mr Garibaldi said: “It has been a true privilege to lead the organisation over the nine years of my tenure and I am extremely proud of what has been achieved over that time by the incredibly dedicated team at Palace House. It has been an honour to have been part of such an exciting project. I am delighted to be handing over to Professor Parissien whose outstanding work at Compton Verney is well known and makes him, in my opinion, the perfect choice. I couldn’t be more pleased that the Board has recruited Steven to take Palace House through the next stage of its extraordinary history and I wish him every success in his new post.”

Rachel Hood, Chair of Trustees said: “I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the Trustees’ and my sincere thanks for the tremendous job that Chris has done to produce such a brilliant Museum and we all wish him well on his return to academia. We are absolutely thrilled to have recruited Professor Parissien as our new Chief Executive. We looked far and wide for a suitable candidate and are immensely pleased to have persuaded Steven to return from Canada to take forward our ambitions for the organisation.”
Commenting on his appointment Professor Parissien said “I am absolutely delighted to be returning to the UK and taking over the reins from Chris at Palace House. They have achieved a vast amount as an organisation over the past 9 years with him at the helm, and I am incredibly excited to be bringing my experiences at Compton Verney and in the wider museum sector to help lead them in their – and indeed my – ambitions and plans for the future and growth of Palace House, The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art.”

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