Museum piece : LETTER

If the Victoria & Albert is ever to become anything other than an "ace caff with a nice museum attached", its choice of new direc- tor will be vital ("The man most likely to..., 28 January). But Peter Popham's shameless puffery of Tim Clifford belies a deeper con- ceit popular among journalists - that heroic, ruggedly individualistic managers are the only effective ones. Just because the Empire, from which many of the V&A's treasures were plundered, was built on these qualities, it doesn't follow that these are the ones required now.

Nor must we allow the belief to hold sway that the arts are somehow different - and therefore beyond the conventional managerial wisdom of Glaxo, Ford and Manchester United. In doing so, we only allow the continued domination of a self-serving elite.

It would, indeed, appear that a vital requirement for the new director is that s/he can work with the Chairman of the Trustees and the keepers of the collections, as well as empowering staff with a vision of what the museum is to be.

christopher moorhouse

Sheffield, Yorkshire

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