Birmingham Museums Trust appoints Sara Wajid and Zak Mensah as joint CEOs

Museums Association

Birmingham Museums Trust has appointed Sara Wajid and Zak Mensah as joint CEOs, joining the charity in November 2020 and taking over from Dr Ellen McAdam.

According to Birmingham Museums, the appointment is a rare instance of people of colour reaching the highest level of leadership in UK museums, and of job-sharing at a CEO level.

The National Museums Directors Council represents 45 institutions, and only one other organisation is led by a person of colour.

This announcement further cements Birmingham Museum Trust’s commitment to representing the diverse people of Birmingham.

Zak comes to Birmingham Museums Trust from his role as Head of Transformation: Culture & Creative Industries at Bristol Museums.

“Effective anti-racist succession planning”

“As a regional museum with a very diverse demographic, BMT is well placed to connect communities locally and use technology to drive audience engagement on a global scale,” said Zak.

“Sara and I aim to ensure BMT remains resilient and delivers services that are inclusive, allowing people to connect and learn.

“On a personal note, I’m proud to be a demonstration of being part of the change you seek to make at an institutional level and look forward to making a ruckus.”

Sara is currently Head of Engagement for the Museum of London, working on the development of the new museum at West Smithfield.

Prior to that, Sara was Head of Interpretation at Birmingham Museums Trust, where she produced the experimental exhibition ‘The Past is Now’.

Sara and Zak both involved in Museum Detox

“Being appointed as joint CEO to BMT is a very special honour for me and it’s in part thanks to the experience I gained on the Arts Council ‘Changemakers’ programme at BMT in 2016,” said Sara.

“That’s what I call effective anti-racist succession planning. Zak and I were inspired to apply for this role together through our involvement in Museum Detox [an anti-racist museum collective].

“We hope it could be a useful blueprint for others considering their future in the sector, and that we won’t be in such a small cohort of people of colour leading museums for long.”

The announcement comes after confirmation that Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery will be reopening on October 7, following a temporary closure in response to COVID-19.