Director-General

The Director-General, Dame Diane Lees, is the Board of Trustees’ Chief Executive and the Chief Accounting Officer. Diane has served as Director-General of Imperial War Museums since October 2008.

Diane Lees began her career as an historic buildings researcher and then moved into exhibitions, education and interpretation. She has worked on some of the most challenging and exciting projects in the country, including the rescue and relocation of a hat block manufacturer’s workshop in central Manchester, the recovery and display of the Mary Rose flagship in Portsmouth Harbour and the redisplay of the Nelson Galleries at the Royal Naval Museum. She project-managed the creation of the UK standard for the recording of information about museum collections (SPECTRUM) and was responsible for the creation of the only museum of law in the country, the multi-award-winning Galleries of Justice in Nottingham.

She is a Trustee of the IWM Development Trust and The Gerry Holdsworth Special Forces Trust. She serves as Vice President of the American Air Museum in Britain, is a member of the Women Leaders in Museums Network (WLMN) and from April 2013 to March 2017 chaired the National Museum Directors’ Council (NMDC). She sits on the judging panels of the Museums + Heritage Awards and the 2022 Art Fund Museum of the Year. She is also a member of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s Experts’ Reference Group and the DCMS Cultural and Heritage Capital Advisory Board. Since April 2018 she has been Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the University of Lincoln’s Board of Governors. She is a member of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and a Freeman of the City of London.

Diane Lees was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in January 2015 and a DBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in January 2022 for services to museums. She was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the University of Reading in July 2015 and an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree by Nottingham Trent University in June 2017.

Board of Trustees

IWM is an independent, statutory, corporate, public body with exempt charity status. It is governed by a Board of Trustees acting on the authority of the Imperial War Museum Acts 1920 and 1955, the Museums and Galleries Act 1992 and other relevant legislation. The Board of Trustees was constituted under the schedule of the Imperial War Museum Act 1920, by which the museum itself was formally established.

There are 22 Trustees, including the President, who is appointed by the Sovereign.

The remaining 21 members of the Board are appointed variously by:

The Prime Minister
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
The Secretary of State for Defence
The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
The seven Commonwealth Governments of Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka, who are represented by their High Commissioners in an ex officio capacity.

Apart from the President and the ex officio High Commissioners, Trustee appointments are subject to the requirements and recommendations laid down in the Nolan Committee Report on Standards in Public Life.  Trustees are appointed in the first instance for a term of up to four years and may be re-appointed at the end of their term.

The Chairman of the Board is elected by the Trustees from among their number.

The Role of Trustees

Members of the Board have corporate responsibility for the general management and control of IWM.  It is their responsibility also to ensure that IWM complies with any statutory or administrative requirements for the use of public funds.  Specifically, the Board:

  • Determines the general policy of IWM
  • Appoints the Director-General of IWM, with the approval of the Prime Minister
  • Monitors and oversees the Director-General’s management of IWM. The Director-General is the Board’s chief executive and the Accounting Officer of IWM
  • Has legal responsibility for the buildings, collections and financial assets of IWM and their care and management
  • Approves IWM’s Corporate Plan
  • Monitors the process of Risk Management within IWM
  • Publishes an annual report and account, audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General

Trustees meet quarterly in March, July, September and December.

Trustee Information

  • Trustee Vacancies

    A list of our current Trustee Vacancies.

  • Trustee Profiles

    Profiles of our Trustees.

  • Current Trustees

    A list of our current Trustees.

  • Trustee Appointments

    A notice of our Trustee Appointments.

  • Register of Interests

    Trustees of the Imperial War Museum have registered the following potential conflicts of interest.

  • Board Meeting Minutes

    Minutes of the meetings held by the Board of Trustees during the last two years can be read here.