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Dresden art director to take over London's Victoria and Albert

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14:05 CEST+02:00
The art gallery director who organised the controversial Art of the Enlightenment exhibition of German art currently on display in Beijing is leaving his post in Dresden to take over the British Victoria and Albert Museum.

Martin Roth, General Director of the State Art Collection Dresden (SKD) is set to take over the prestigious London museum at the beginning of September. He will be the first ever German to take on the post.

He said he was honoured to have been picked to take on the Victoria and Albert, although leaving his post in Dresden is no easy move. “Turning my back on Dresden is not an easy decision,” he told the Sächsische Zeitung.

But he said he was looking forward to no longer having to look after 12 museums in his new job. “In the future I will be able to concentrate more on issues of content,” he said.

He has been in charge of the SKD since 2001, a position which made him responsible for cultural jewels such as the Historic Green Vault treasure chamber, the Gallery of New Masters and the Picture Gallery of Old Masters.

The SKD has been criticised for taking part in the Peking show due to China's record on human rights. And since the arrest and disappearance of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei two days after the show's opening, calls have multiplied for the German art to be withdrawn from China.

But Roth consistently defended his participation in organising the exhibition, saying in one interview, “In England one sees things very differently, and is more realistic.”

And he won great kudos in 2002 during the enormous flooding in Dresden when he acted quickly to get hundreds of pictures and sculptures out of danger. He then sent a collection of masterworks on tour to Hamburg, London and Berlin, raising desperately needed money for restoration.

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