The opening of the Ikon on 21 March will be a contrast to the height of fashion, three-night affair that celebrated the re-opening of London's Serpentine Gallery last month. The Serpentine actually had much less of a facelift than the Ikon, which is moving into a different building. But fashion designers, European crowned princes, rock stars and all the miscellaneous celebrities who cling to the London contemporary art scene were there.

"I wouldn't feel comfortable with that," says Macgregor firmly. "We do have a relationship with a lot of young musicians here in Birmingham, but there aren't exactly many trendy boutiques."

Interestingly both Macgregor and Julia Peyton Jones, the director of the Serpentine, have been mentioned as possible candidates for the most prestigious modern art job on the market: the director of the new Tate Museum of Modern Art at Bankside, which will open in the year 2000. However, the smart money says that a foreign curator is now likely to get it, or possibly Sandy Nairne, the Tate's current assistant director. In any case, any Bankside director will really be a deputy director. It's hard to see the Tate's own hands-on director Nicholas Serota taking a back seat.

For the moment, Macgregor does not want to look beyond the Midlands, which she has helped to put on the contemporary art map.

"I'm really proud of Birmingham and what we're doing here. I wouldn't dream of leaving. I'm close to the cutting edge and close to artists."