A New Chapter - Arts at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
We are delighted to announce our new Head of Exhibitions – Emma Nicolson – whose impressive background as a curator, educator and artistic director, stands her in good stead for this role. As Head of Exhibitions she will lead on developing a new strategy harnessing arts and culture across the four Gardens helping to make those benefits available to all.
Emma has been actively involved in the arts for over 20 years and has worked for leading cultural institutions in Scotland, England, Ireland and Australia including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and National Galleries of Scotland to name a few.
After finishing her arts education in Edinburgh and London, Emma curated for Lothian and Fife museums, managed the MAC – Museums & Arts Coach – a converted coach taking exhibitions across Fife and beyond, and spent six years at the National Galleries of Scotland where she became Acting Head of Education.
Uprooting her life and moving to Sydney in 2007, Emma spent three years as Education and Access Senior Manager at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Known as ‘Australia’s Home for Contemporary Art’, the museum presents 17 exhibitions each year whilst connecting the work of living artists to the cultural life of Sydney, a vibrant city of five million people with roots in over 100 different countries. Leading on public engagement, planning and implementing an innovative and stimulating range of social engagement, learning programmes and events to a diverse audience, Emma certainly made a name for herself down under.
Notably, she delivered over 50 community engagement projects - of which two won coveted Arts & Business Awards- and during a $53 million redevelopment had specific responsibility for a state-of-the-art National Centre for Creative Learning, which now occupies 40% of the new wing. Emma revamped front of house management with daily programmes of gallery spotlight talks, educator led gallery tours for corporate sponsors, and the Museum’s ‘Bella’ programme for people with specific needs, including physical, intellectual, emotional or behavioral disability.
Most recently, Emma was founding director of ATLAS Arts based in Isle of Skye, arriving in 2010 from Sydney. In Skye she developed and delivered an integrated programme of exhibitions, performances, sound events, film programmes, over the course of eight years, including several award winning and innovative site specific public art projects across Skye and beyond. This varied and sophisticated programme of exhibitions, commissions and events took the work of and international calibre to an audience of 500,000 in Skye and beyond (against an original target of 5,000 per annum), establishing a respected a respected position in Scotland’s cultural ecology. During her time in Skye she also spent two years as a guest curator at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre, a community focused hub for the arts, heritage and economic development.
For the past two years she has also been on the selection panel for the Margaret Tait film award and until recently she was a Trustee of the CCA, Glasgow and SCAN, Scottish Contemporary Art Network.
‘I am thrilled to be appointed to this role, and honoured to build on the Garden’s illustrious legacy. Working creatively within an organisation dedicated to the highest calibre of research in plants and science is a thrilling opportunity. I am excited about creating a rich and vibrant programme that is about deepening connections with the unique resources of the Gardens and creating transformative experiences for everyone. RBGE is unique in the way it brings together horticulture, science and art in a place of outstanding beauty, rooted in 350 years of history. I am looking forward to collaborating and working with the team here in Edinburgh and the Regional gardens in building a vision for the future.’
Although the 2019 RBGE exhibition programme is already planned out, Emma’s contribution will be hugely important, until 2020 when she will arrange a full programme.
Emma brings a fresh perspective, deep experience and passion for the arts alongside a vast range of contacts and experience. We are thrilled to have her on board and excited to see what the future holds for exhibitions at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
For further information, interviews or images, please contact Heather Williamson on 0131 248 2942 or Shauna Hay on 0131 248 2900
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a leading international research organisation delivering knowledge, education and plant conservation action around the world. In Scotland its four Gardens at Edinburgh, Benmore, Logan and Dawyck attract around a million visitors each year. It operates as a Non Departmental Public Body established under the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, principally funded by the Scottish Government. It is also a registered charity, managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Ministers. Its mission is “To explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future”.
Learn more: www.rbge.org.uk
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