Natural History Museum - Commercial Trustee

Body: Natural History Museum
Appointing Department: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Sector: Culture, Media & Sport
Location: All meetings are currently taking place virtually owing to Covid restrictions but we expect to return to a pattern where Board meetings normally take place at the main site in South Kensington, London. In recent years the May Board meeting has been held at another UK location and the Annual Trustees’ Strategy Day is usually held in London but remote from the Museum.
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: Trustees give their services on an honorary basis and receive no remuneration, except for expenses reasonably incurred in performance of their duties.
Time Requirements: There are four regular Board meetings per year and one strategy day. Occasionally extraordinary meetings are convened to consider urgent issues or decisions. In addition, Trustees will serve on other committees as necessary as well as attend events at the Museum, other representational engagements, and, where possible or desirable, take part in recruitment for senior management positions. Trustees will need to allocate additional time to study papers.

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    09/07/2021 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date

    15 September & 01 October

  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

The Prime Minister wishes to appoint a new Commercial Trustee to the board of the Natural History Museum. Applications are encouraged from all sections of the community to help ensure that the Museum’s board is representative of the diverse society it serves.

The role of Trustees
The Trustees of the Museum have statutory duties under the British Museum Act 1963 and the Museums and Galleries Act 1992 for the general management and control of the Museum and for the appointment of the Director. Within the framework of these statutory duties, the role of the Trustees is primarily to establish Museum policy, review performance, support the generation of income and endorse appointments to key management positions.

Trustees participate in the Board’s decision-making processes including preparation for and attendance at all meetings of the Board and of any Board committees or other Museum structures to which they are appointed.

Trustees should have a commitment to the objectives of the Museum, uphold Museum policies and act as advocates for the Museum, including assistance with activities to generate funding from the corporate sector, trusts and foundations and other philanthropists. Trustees are expected to understand and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life as defined by the Nolan Committee. Those principles are: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. In accordance with this commitment, Trustees must declare any pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests upon appointment and whenever a matter or decision arises in which the Trustee has an interest which might be perceived to prejudice their views or comments or to be in conflict with the interests of the Museum.

The Museum is currently seeking to appoint a new Commercial Trustee to replace Dr Kim Winser OBE who will be stepping down at the end of her second term on 17 August 2021.

Person Specification

Essential Criteria
The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate in their application the following qualities:

  • A love of natural history and a commitment to the Museum’s strategic plan;
  • Executive commercial experience at a senior level with the ability to help drive the development of the Museum’s commercial operations;
  • An understanding of the importance to the Museum of fundraising and a commitment to support such activity.
  • The ability to work collaboratively with other Trustees and the senior management of the Museum to ensure its effective governance, and to contribute to strategy and policy development and;
  • A commitment to preserving cultural heritage, and improving education and understanding of British and World history.


Desirable Criteria
For this appointment we are seeking an individual with significant senior commercial experience. We are particularly interested in candidates who demonstrate one or more of the following desirable criteria:

  • Knowledge of and networks within global markets – in particular the US and important emerging markets within China and South East Asia;
  • Understanding of emerging digital publication channels and the opportunities this can create for commercialising high quality digital content;
  • Experience of commercial development of IP through licencing and other channels to help the Museum further develop and support its income from these areas.

Additional Information

History of the Museum

Originally part of the British Museum, the natural history collections (founded on those generated by Sir Hans Sloane) were moved to South Kensington when the now Grade 1 listed Waterhouse building was opened in 1881. The Museum became a separate legal entity with its own Board of Trustees on enactment of the British Museum Act, 1963, but was known after that time as the British Museum (Natural History), until the Museums and Galleries Act 1992 when it was officially retitled the Natural History Museum. The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum at Tring (now known as the Natural History Museum at Tring) was added in 1937 when it was given to the nation by the second Baron Rothschild. Responsibility was assumed for the Geological Museum (now the Earth Galleries) from the Natural Environment Research Council when the latter’s British Geological Survey moved to Keyworth in 1985. The Natural History Museum is both a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB), funded in part by Grant-in-Aid from the British Government provided through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and an exempt charity. Approximately half of its expenditure is derived from sources of self-generated income, including bodies awarding grants for scientific research.

The Museum Today

The Natural History Museum’s mission is to create advocates for the planet – inspiring millions of people to care about the natural world and make the positive changes in their daily lives that will create a world in which both people and planet can thrive.

The NHM is the guardian of one of the world’s most important natural history collections. Through our own unrivalled expertise and by opening up access and participation for all, we are unlocking answers to the big issues facing humanity and the planet:

  • The origins of our planet and life on it, and the impact of change;
  • The diversity of life and the delicate balance of ecosystems that ensure the survival of our planet;
  • Sustainable futures, for example the security of our food supply, the eradication of disease and the management of mineral and ore scarcity.

The Natural History Museum is internationally recognised for its dual role as a centre of scientific excellence and as a leading visitor attraction, presenting natural history to the general public through exhibitions, a programme of public events and a presence online and on social media. Its principal purposes are to discover and make available to the scientific community the information contained within its collections of natural history specimens and to entertain, interest and educate people of all ages in natural history.

The Museum is entering an exciting new phase in its development. There is an imperative to improve the conditions for storage of collections and plans to realise this by moving some collections to a new Centre at Harwell Science & Innovation Campus. New digital, analytical and genomic technologies are emerging which both increase the potential user base of the collections and enable greater information to be derived from even the oldest specimens. These changes are facilitating exciting new research opportunities. Finally, a vibrant programme of temporary exhibitions will complement a planned refit of major galleries, and plans are in place to redevelop the Museum’s gardens, creating outdoor galleries and new outdoor learning activities for young people.

These plans need to be resourced. The Natural History Museum is an Arm’s Length Body with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport is its sponsoring government department. NHM receives Grant in Aid funding to support a proportion of its cost-base, but over 50% of the Museum’s income is generated from external commercial and fundraising sources. The ambitious Vision and Strategy to 2031 will make growing and diversifying this self-generated income even more important to success.

Final NHM Commercial Trustee Role Specification
Return to Search