MGM 2008 - A Museum Of Me - Penny Johnson

Museum of me logo

Penny Johnson is Director of the Government Art Collection. The collection of more than 12,000 artworks ranges from Old Masters to contemporary photographic works, which adorn the walls of government and embassy buildings.

Is there an object or work of art that has inspired you, encouraged you to work in a different way or given you a great idea?

I have chosen Reflection, a painting from a series Bridget Riley made after seeing wall paintings in the tombs in Upper Egypt, in which she uses the colours of these ancient works.

1 - pic relevant to Bridget Riley here

I first saw the series in the 1980s and in 1998 we were able to buy one of the paintings for the Government Art Collection to display in the British Ambassador’s Residence in Cairo. I like this painting because of the energising effect of the vertical stripes and the vibrancy of the colours.

Can you name a person who has inspired you?

In my first year at university, I heard Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton give a talk about her work at Norwich Castle Museum.

Photo of a woman

Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton

Here was a young woman, bright, committed and engaging, and not much older than me doing the sort of job I would like to do. Marjorie went on to be the Director of Visual Arts at the Arts Council.

Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton is a critic and curator of renown who has selected for the Arts Council's prestigious British Art Show as well as reviewed for leading arts publications. She is an Honorary Fellow of both the Royal College of Art and Royal Institute of British Architects.

Which ideas or creations in your work, are you most proud of? This can be something really significant or quite minor.

One of the aspects of my work that drives me is enabling things to happen, for example commissioning artists for projects or devising exhibitions/displays which will attract wide audiences.

Photo of a gadget that is a large mobile phone with big screen and keyboard

A Blackberry.

Can you think of any current innovations (in science, technology, art etc.), which have had an impact on your life?

Blackberry - so productive to deal with emails while standing in queues waiting for trains, buses and planes.

Tell us what you think. We would like you to use our simple Storymaker editing tool to . We will be selecting some of the most interesting examples and publishing them next to the expert’s views during MGM 2008.

Go back to the Museum of Me index page

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
  • Back to top
  • | Print this article
  • | Email this article
  • | Bookmark and Share


  • 1 mile
  • 2 miles
  • 3 miles
  • 4 miles
  • 5 miles
  • 10 miles
  • 20 miles
  • 50 miles
  • Any time
  • Today
  • This week
  • This month
  • This year