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Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew announces Susan Raikes as director of Wakehurst

by | 03 Jun 24 | News

Susan Raikes has been appointed as director of Wakehurst to help strengthen the Royal Botanic Gardens’ scientific understanding of plants and landscapes.

She leaves her position as director of learning at the Science Museum Group, where she served as a member of the group executive for the past six years.

“Wakehurst was a favourite destination for day trips during my childhood in West Sussex and I can’t wait to have the opportunity to share it with new generations of visitors,” says Susan Raikes.

Raikes tenure at the Science Museum Group included the development of Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery at the Science Museum, the Wonderlab+ website, as well as leading on the museum’s commitment to be Open for All.

Prior to this, she worked as head of learning and national partnerships at the British Museum for a decade. Notably, she was the 2012/2013 Arts Council England Museums fellow on the Clore Cultural Leadership Programme.

This experience will help Kew Wakehurst deliver its ambitious goals to engage the wider public in the beauty and scientific value of the Wakehurst site, meet visitor and member targets, as well as plan for future developments in the landscape.

Raikes comments on the appointment with enthusiasm, saying: “I am delighted to be joining Wakehurst at this pivotal moment in its evolution, when advancing our scientific understanding of plants and landscapes has never been more important.”

Lorraine Lecourtois assumed the interim directorship in October 2023, following the departure of Ed Ikin. She will return to her position as head of public programmes.

Richard Barley, director of gardens at RBG Kew, speaks on Raikes appointment, adding: “I look forward to working with her and building on the outstanding work of the Wakehurst leadership team who continue to build its strength as a multi-layered biodiverse research centre, a rich landscape visitor attraction and as a hub for cultural and family events.”

Two new independent members of Wakehurst Advisory’s Committee have also been announced, Dr Lucy Sutherland, director of national botanic garden Wales, and Esme Ward, director of Manchester Museum.

Kew Wakehurst also named Hollywood actor, Cate Blanchett as its first dedicated ambassador back in April of this year.

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