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(Robert) Neil MacGregor


1946 -

Arts administrator and broadcaster. Born in Glasgow into a medical family, MacGregor was educated at Glasgow Academy, and at New College, Oxford, before studying law at the University of Edinburgh. Despite academic success, he abandoned a legal career for art history, studying at the Courtauld Institute under Anthony Blunt, who was later exposed as a Russian spy. MacGregor taught History of Art and Architecture at the University of Reading (1975-81). After a period editing the arts periodical The Burlington Magazine, he was appointed Director of the National Gallery in London in 1979, and then Director of the British Museum in 2002. In 2008, MacGregor declined the offer of the Directorship of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He turned down a knighthood in 1999, but accepted an appointment to the Order of Merit in 2010. He is also noted for his media work: three television series Painting the World (1995), Making Masterpieces (1997) and Seeing Salvation (2000), together with a remarkable hundred 15-minute programmes for radio entitled A History of the World in 100 Objects (2010) and a further 20 short programmes called Shakespeare's Restless World (2012) all for the BBC.


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