Baltic director Godfrey Worsdale has announced he is to leave the Gateshead centre for contemporary art.
After seven years in one of the region’s most influential arts jobs, he is departing to become the new director of the Henry Moore Foundation.
Mr Worsdale succeeded Peter Doroshenko to become the fourth director of Baltic having previously been the founding director at mima, the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, which opened in 2007.
“To have been Baltic’s director for the past seven years has been a great privilege. It is a remarkable institution staffed by an incredibly talented and committed team of people.
“The board of trustees has been hugely supportive and the stakeholders, both Arts Council England and Gateshead Council, have put faith in our ambitions and enabled Baltic to work with some of the world’s greatest artists whilst welcoming millions of visitors through the doors.
“To work in an internationally recognised institution that is so embedded in its local context is rare, and with Baltic’s recent expansion to its Newcastle site at Baltic 39 and its award-winning and innovative partnership with Northumbria University, the organisation is well placed to continue to play a leading role in the visual arts.”
Baltic chairman Peter Buchan, boss of Ryder Architecture, praised Mr Worsdale’s “outstanding contribution” to Baltic.
He said he would leave the institution “in impressively sound financial and artistic health, with an impeccable and highly respected reputation which will enable the organisation to continue to bring the very best of international contemporary art to the North East”.
Mr Buchan added: “As we enter a new phase in Baltic’s history, we do so knowing that the gallery has exciting, world class exhibitions, partnerships and plans in place.”
Gateshead Council leader Mick Henry said Mr Worsdale had been an exceptional director of Baltic, bringing world class exhibitions and the prestigious Turner Prize to the borough.
“His drive and passion, and ambitious vision, has continued to put Gateshead on the world stage for contemporary art,” he said, adding: “And to top it all, he’s such a nice guy.”
Jane Tarr, Arts Council England’s director in the North, said he left the organisation “in a very strong position – with a great programme, growing audiences and exciting partnerships”.
Mr Worsdale, originally from Doncaster, brought stability to Baltic after a period of staff unrest under his American predecessor.
The Henry Moore Foundation was founded by the artist in 1977, nine years before his death, to encourage public appreciation of the visual arts and in particular his own work.
Its main responsibilities are preserving Moore’s legacy at his Hertfordshire home and through exhibitions worldwide, funding exhibitions and research at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds and awarding grants to arts organisations.
Mr Worsdale, who is expected to leave Baltic in July, will succeed Richard Calvocoressi who is retiring after eight years in the post.
In a statement issued by the Henry Moore Foundation, Mr Worsdale said: “I am delighted to be joining the Foundation at this time, when the importance of Henry Moore’s work is increasingly recognised and appreciated, and his crucial commitment to support the visual arts is more important and necessary than ever.”
The process of appointing a new director of Baltic is likely to begin immediately.
The Gateshead art institution opened in July 2002 after £50m was spent on transforming the former Baltic Flour Mills. People queued to be the first to gain admittance at a midnight opening and more than six million have visited since.