Distinguished friends

Nick Merriman

Dr Nick Merriman OBE is the English Heritage’s Chief Executive, overseeing the National Heritage Collection of over 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites across England (from Stonehenge to the York Cold War Bunker), their collections, and the London blue plaques scheme.

From 2018 to 2023, Merriman was the Chief Executive and Director of Content for the Horniman Museum and Gardens. Under his leadership, the south London museum with its displays of anthropology, natural history and musical instruments, won Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022. One of the award’s judges, Dame Diane Lees, then Director-General at the Imperial War Museums, praised the Horniman for “setting the agenda for how a traditional museum can reinvent itself through powerful ideas.”

Merriman has also held the position of the Director of the Manchester Museum. During this time he focused its mission on promoting understanding between cultures and working towards a sustainable world, and oversaw the refurbishment of most of the Museum’s permanent galleries. This, together with a major programme of public engagement, led to a doubling of the Museum’s visitor numbers to 450,000 a year. Prior to moving to Manchester, Nick was Director of Museums and Collections, and Reader in Museum Studies, at University College London, for eight years. During this time, he developed new courses in museum and heritage studies, and created a new university-wide museum service.

From 2004 to 2006, Nick was a part time Fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme, undertaking a bespoke scheme of training and development in cultural leadership. Nick began his career at the Museum of London in 1986, as Curator of Prehistory and subsequently Head of the Department of Early London History and Collections. While there he led a pioneering project called ‘The Peopling of London’ which told the story of the capital’s cultural diversity from ancient times to the present. He studied archaeology at Cambridge University, and his PhD, on widening participation in museums, was published as ‘Beyond The Glass Case’. He has published widely on museum studies topics, was Chair of the International Council of Museums (UK) from 2001 to 2004, President of the Council for British Archaeology from 2005 to 2008, Chair of the University Museums Group from 2009 to 2013, Convenor of the Museums Association’s Ethics Committee from 2008 to 2014 and was Chair of the Collections Trust from 2013 to 2017.

Nick is an Honorary Professor at UCL and in May 2021 was appointed as the Chair of the Designation Scheme Panel of Arts Council England.