Ian Walden will leave his post in July 2009
The award-winning director of one of the most popular museums in the Midlands has announced his retirement after more than 33 years in the post.
Ian Walden OBE will leave Dudley's Black Country Living Museum in July 2009, having developed the former wasteland into a key tourist attraction with an annual turnover of £2.4 million since joining the heritage site in October 1975.
"I will miss the Museum and all the staff a great deal," admitted Walden, who won the Outstanding Business Achievement prize at the Best of the Black Country awards last year.
"It has been a huge part of my life for such a long time but it is now time for me to open a new chapter."
Under his leadership, the Museum has developed a riverside village which employs hundreds of local people to entertain more than 270,000 visitors a year, and a planned £10 million Streets Ahead expansion will double the size of the centre.
"Since his appointment as Museum Director in 1975, Ian has led the development of the Black Country Living Museum from a 26-acre derelict site to the recognised historical centre of excellence and leading visitor attraction," said Museum Chairman John Hughes, who will launch the search for a successor immediately. "We shall all be very sorry to see Ian retire in July and wish him well."
"I am leaving behind a very capable team," added Walden. "They will steer the museum into Phase 2 of the new development programme and what I predict will be a very promising future."