Esme Ward - MuseumNext

Esme Ward

Director, Manchester Museum

Esme Ward

Esme Ward was appointed as Director of Manchester Museum of the University of Manchester in April 2018. She is the first woman to hold the role in its 125-year history. Prior to this, she worked alongside Maria Balshaw on the £15 million redevelopment of the Whitworth. Her career has been driven by learning and social purpose with a commitment to make museums more inclusive and relevant to the communities they serve.

Esme is leading Manchester Museum’s £13.5 million transformation hello future with the ambition of becoming the UK’s most inclusive, imaginative and caring museum. Key highlights include building a new, permanent South Asia Gallery in a landmark partnership with the British Museum, a Chinese Culture Gallery and a new Exhibition Hall.

Esme is the Strategic Lead (Culture) for Age Friendly Manchester and the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, working with and for older people to make the city-region a better place to age well. She is regularly asked to write and speak about age-friendly culture and the social purpose and future of museums, both internationally and at home.

In 2016-17, Esme was a Fellow on the Clore Cultural Leadership Programme, exploring social and civic purpose, leadership and the future of museums.  In 2018 she was also awarded Honorary Professorship of Heritage Futures at the University of Manchester.

Speaking at...

Care, Love, Failure and Making it up as we go along…


The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

How, in the midst of so much change, do we stay energised – not get bogged down or burnt out? How do we look after ourselves better and how do we start to take notice of and act on what makes the heart beat faster?

Ward is leading a transformative project at Manchester Museum, the UK’s largest university museum, renewing the creative civic mission of the organisation and leading an ambitious capital development. In their ambition is to become the most inclusive, imaginative and caring museum, she explores the personal and institutional issues she and her team are grappling with and what is and isn’t working as they seek to create the conditions for agency, care, collaboration and new forms of leadership.