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Library and cultural institutions profiles

Christopher Pressler

University Librarian and Director of the John Rylands Library

Christopher Pressler was appointed University Librarian and Director of The John Rylands Library in February 2019.

Before joining us at Manchester, Christopher was University Librarian and Director of the Irish Modern Archives Research Centre at Dublin City University (DCU). He has also been Director of Libraries at the University of London, University Librarian and Director of e-Learning at the University of Nottingham, and Dean of Libraries at Dartington College of Arts. He has contributed to many boards and collaborative programmes in the UK, Ireland and in Europe for more than 15 years and has particular interests in open scholarship, digital technologies and special collections.

In recent years, Christopher has authored the UK’s National Digitisation Review for Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and, for Ireland’s Consortium of National and University Libraries, the first strategy for all of Ireland’s research libraries.

At London he co-edited two monographs on rare books and special collections and for six years was the Chair of Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts. At Nottingham he established the UK’s Centre for Research Communications and recently launched DCU Press, Ireland’s first open-access university press.

He launched DCU’s new Special Collections Exhibition Gallery and worked with The British Library, The National Archives and RLUK as the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) Board representative on a new national approach to digital scholarship in special collections and archives.

Christopher is also the co-founder and co-chair of DART-Europe, the portal to over 600 European universities’ doctoral e-theses from 28 countries.

Esme Ward

Director of the Manchester Museum, Esme Ward

Esme Ward took up the role of Director of Manchester in April 2018. The first female director in the 125-year history of the Museum, Esme has two prior decades’ experience at the University’s cultural institutions. 

Esme joined the Whitworth as its Education Officer in 1998 before becoming Head of Learning and Engagement across the Whitworth and Manchester Museum in 2010, where she led the growth of audiences and programmes, to include award-winning early years, health and culture and age friendly work. In recent years she worked alongside with the leadership team at the Whitworth to help it win Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2015.

She started her career at Dulwich Picture Gallery and the V&A before moving north and working as a freelance educator with the National Trust and regional museum services. Throughout her career, Esme has been driven by a social purpose and longstanding commitment to make museums even more inclusive and relevant to a wider audience.

Esme completed a year-long Clore Cultural Leadership Fellowship in 2016–7, which included a placement with the Heritage Lottery Fund, exploring social and civic purpose, leadership and the future of museums. She is the Strategic Lead (Culture) for Age Friendly Manchester and the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub. 

She sits on several national boards and networks, including the Age Friendly Museums Network, and was one of the expert authors on the Prime Minister’s Champion Group on the Arts Guide to Dementia Friendly Culture. In 2019–20 Esme is co-curator of the arts, health and social change programme at the World Healthcare Congress Europe in Manchester.

Alistair Hudson

Director of the Whitworth, Alistair Hudson

Alistair Hudson was appointed Director of the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery in February 2018.

Prior to his move to Manchester, Alistair was Director of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art where his vision was based on the concept of the ‘useful museum’, successfully engaging its local communities and responding to the town’s industrial heritage.

In the preceding ten years he was Deputy Director of Grizedale Arts, which gained critical acclaim for its radical approaches to working with artists and communities, based on the idea that art should be useful and not just an object of contemplation.

Alistair began his career at the Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London (1994–2000), before joining The Government Art Collection (2000–04) where, as Projects Curator, he devised a public art strategy for the new Home Office building with Liam Gillick.

Alistair is also co-director of the Asociación de Arte Útil with Tania Bruguera – an expansive international project and online archive that forms part of the Uses of Art programmes with the L’internationale confederation. He was a 2015 jury member for the Turner Prize.

Dr Teresa Anderson MBE

Director of Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, Dr Teresa Anderson MBE

Dr Teresa Anderson became Director of the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre in 2006. Teresa studied Physics here at The University of Manchester. Following her Doctorate in Electrical Engineering at the University of Edinburgh she then wanted to ‘do something useful’ with it and went on to work for Practical Action on renewable energy systems for developing countries – places such as the Himalayas in Nepal, Sri Lanka and the South American rainforest. Her interest in how society uses science eventually led her back to the UK and into a role at NESTA where she gained experience in the Science Policy sector.

In 2006 Teresa was responsible for creating the new Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, which opened in April 2011. She has also led the process to inscribe Jodrell Bank on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. As part of this, Jodrell Bank was placed on the UK shortlist for World Heritage Site status in 2011.

In 2012 Teresa became Chair of the Board of the UK’s Association of Science and Discovery Centres. The following year she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s  Birthday Honours for Services to Astrophysics.