Dame Diane Lees steps down as chief executive of the Imperial War Museums


The chief executive of the Imperial War Museums (IWM), Dame Diane Lees, will step down on March 31, 2023.

Lees joined IWM in 2008 and became the museums first female chief executive since its inception in 1917.

During his fourteen years as director, Lees redeveloped the branches of the museum with the help of over £90 million in fundraising and investment.

With the support of IWM’s Board of Directors, leadership team, staff and donors, Lees put IWM at the forefront of national commemorations of the First World War Centennial with the opening of the Galleries of the IWM World War I in London in 2014 and co-commissioned by Peter Jackson. war documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old.

While at IWM, Lees also led the redevelopment of the American Air Museum at IWM Duxford in 2016 and last year’s completion of IWM London’s WWII and the galleries of the Holocaust in 2021.

Lees has also assisted international war and conflict-themed organizations, including establishing IWM’s First World War Centenary Partnership and Network of Subject Scholars.

Lees received a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honors List in January 2015 and a DBE in the Queen’s New Year Honors List in January 2022 for his services to museums.

Lees said her time as CEO “was an honor”.

“Over the past fourteen years, I have had the privilege of growing and transforming the organization, most recently with the opening of the new WWII and Holocaust galleries.

“The Museum, and the sector in general, have gone through enormous changes since I started in 2008 and I am proud to have been at the helm throughout this important period. I have had the privilege of working with so many of IWM’s incredible employees, directors, partners, veterans and Holocaust survivors, who have made serving as Executive Director a rewarding and extraordinary.

Matthew Westerman, chairman of the IWM board, said the museum is now determined to name a successor “to build on [Lees’] accomplishments and position the Museum for its next exciting period of development.

Westerman continued, “On behalf of the Board, as well as my predecessors as Chairman, who have worked so closely with Di over the past fourteen years, I thank Di for his extraordinary service to IWM.

“She built on the work of those who came before her and led the Museum with distinction, working with her management teams, staff and volunteers to transform the Museum into the institution it is today. today.

“His tenure has coincided with good and bad times including the global financial crisis and the pandemic and throughout the Museum has remained true to its mission.

“Di has led the team forward to make the Museum such a fascinating place to visit both physically and digitally and we are very grateful for the support we continue to receive from our sponsors and donors as well as our excellent relationships with the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

Lees was a long-time judge on the jury of the Museums + Heritage Awards.

Anna Preedy, Director of the Museums + Heritage Awards, said of Lees, “It has been and continues to be an honor to have Diane as a key member of the Museums + Heritage Awards judging panel. His depth of knowledge and experience in this industry has been invaluable and we wish him all the best for the future.


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