Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Design Museum gets rid of "stroppy" Rawsthorn

"Alice Rawsthorn Resigns From The Design Museum"

Oh joy, what schadenfreude !

"Rawsthorn was forced to resign by the museum's trustees. The move followed a disagreement with founder, Sir Terence Conran, over the future of the institution. Sir Terence supported plans to overhaul the museum and link it to a new government-funded Centre of Excellence for Creativity and Innovation. Rawsthorn did not, fearing that the museum's unique and special character as well as its independence, would be lost."

What a nerve, it had already been lost due to her; she changed it from a museum focused on trying to show and explain serious design and industrial proceses to a place that also looked at style in shoes and flower-arranging. She was a regular on Robert Elms' show on Radio London, where she frequently tried to put him down with her supposedly superior taste in art and design.

"Dyson [of vacuum cleaner fame] left after the other trustees refused to back his attempts to rein in Rawsthorn and her determination, as he saw it, to pursue a programme pitched more at Constance Spry and the readers of Wallpaper than Walter Gropius and vacuum cleaners. The last straw for Dyson was Rawsthorn's exhibition about flower arranging. As she saw it, Constance Spry provided a genuine insight into domestic life in the 1950s. Dyson didn't agree and the fact that it was Rawsthorn's replacement for a show Conran had set his heart on, and which she had cancelled, didn't exactly help matters.

"Design, he said, was about serious, technical things, not shallow styling. It should be about turbo fan jet engines and body scanners, not football boots, frocks and hats - an emphasis that was, 'ruining the museum's reputation and betraying its purpose. It's become a style showcase, instead of upholding its mission to encourage serious design, of the manufactured object.'

"Before he left, Christopher Frayling tried to negotiate an agreement that would defuse tension with the trustees, who saw themselves deprived of a role in the museum's affairs. As one eyewitness said: 'Meetings had turned into a monologue at which trustees sat listening to Alice talking about her achievements, and refusing to discuss her exhibitions programme.'
Frayling believed a compromise had been reached, but when the proposal was put to Rawsthorn in writing, though she claims to have accepted it, she did so in such a way that a number of trustees believed that she had rejected it. 'If Terence had wanted a sycophant in the role [of director], he absolutely wouldn't have chosen me, because he knew how stroppy and stubborn I can be,' Rawsthorn said in a newspaper interview in happier times."

Thank goodness the "happy" times are over and the "stroppy" bitch has been kicked out.

[Conran said] " 'I try to explain to her that you are the director, but you are not here for ever. We have to see that the museum has a future after you. I cannot be involved if it goes on like this. I admire her dedication; the visitor numbers are up, it is more popular, but there is too much tinsel. I am sure James [Dyson] could be persuaded to come back if these matters were resolved. But she can't bring herself to say sorry.' ",11710,1318283,00.html

"A proposed £50m relocation and expansion project, to be completed by 2012, would not mean the death of the museum or a merger, a spokeswoman said

'We have discussed the Cox report with George Cox and are supportive of his recommendations. We believe that the new Design Museum can fulfil a significant part of his recommendations but believe that it needs to be an independent institution run as a museum and true to its roots and mission - if it is to be the world's leading museum of design.'"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah there's nothing like the old boys network to get rid of a strong and challenging woman is there?

What's the matter men - afraid she might take your fetishised boys toys away in favour of something more relevant to a greater number of people today's world?

As usual, this seems to be more about what a chosen few out-of-touch patriarchs find most appeasing to their macho sensibilities, than what visitors to museums actually want.

Alice may be a stubborn and focussed character, but the brief she was given on appointment was to raise the profile of the museum. She has achevied this and more, with her dignity in tact and should be congratulated on standing up against a few dinosaurs who really just want to play happy families with the Ken and Tony.

Surely the visitors should be the people who decide on whether her Directorship was successful, and it looks as though they're all in favour.

God forbid the Design museum returns to its former archaic engingeering driven boys school.

Blogger sybariter said...

See reply to anon at:


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