Dr Tarnya Cooper to join National Trust as Curatorial & Collections Director

Press release
Tarnya Cooper
Published : 11 Oct 2017 Last update : 06 Dec 2017

The National Trust has appointed Dr Tarnya Cooper as Curatorial & Collections Director.

Tarnya will join the Trust’s newly expanded cohort of curators led by Director of Curation & Experience, John Orna-Ornstein. She will help shape and deliver the Trust’s ambitious new curatorial strategy, including high quality research, inspirational engagement, and excellent care for collections and buildings.

An internationally respected art historian, Tarnya has been Chief Curator and then Curatorial Director at the National Portrait Gallery since 2011.

She has curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery including The Encounter, drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt (2017), Elizabeth I and her People (2013), and Searching for Shakespeare (2006). Prior to this, she was Research Curator for the Elizabeth exhibition (2003) at the National Maritime Museum and taught art history at University College London.

Tarnya has published widely on visual culture and British art and her publications include: Painting in England: artistic practice, patronage and display (with Maurice Howard, Aviva Burnstock and Edward Town) published by the British Academy, for OUP, 2015; The Real Tudors: kings and queens re-discovered (with Charlotte Bolland), National Portrait Gallery, 2014; Citizen Portrait: Portrait Painting and the Urban Elites of Tudor and Jacobean England and Wales 1540-1620, Yale University Press, 2012.

National Trust Director of Curation & Experience John Orna-Ornstein said:  

“I’m absolutely thrilled that Tarnya Cooper will be joining the Trust’s senior management as Curatorial & Collections Director.

“Tarnya combines a fantastic record of research and publication at the National Portrait Gallery with a huge commitment to making our places and our histories widely accessible. She will play a key role in leading the National Trust’s ambitions for world class research and programming, working with our expanded team of talented curators.”

Commenting on her appointment, Tarnya Cooper said:

“The National Trust's wonderful and diverse collections displayed in nationally important houses, castles, mills, archaeological sites and other properties of all kinds across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are a treasure trove with fantastic potential to enthral and inspire.

“I'm passionate about Britain's remarkable cultural heritage and truly delighted to take up this challenging and exciting role. I look forward to working with a newly expanded team that will help look after special places for ever for everyone.”

Tarnya will take up her appointment in January 2018.