Engel, currently head of external affairs at Jobcentre Plus and a former special adviser to David Blunkett when he was Secretary for Education and Employment, will begin his new role on 1 July.
He will take over from Catherine Holden, who left to join the National Museums of Scotland as director of marketing and development (PRWeek, 30 January).
Engel will manage a team of 11, whose roles cover press, marketing and internal communications.
He will also oversee the three-strong science communications PR team that was put together last October with the aim of highlighting the museum’s research, conducted by 350 scientists, to the public and the scientific community.
Engel has been head of external affairs at Jobcentre Plus, where he led a team of 50 staff, since October 2001.
His brief at Jobcentre Plus covered comms, marketing, public affairs, media and stakeholder relations. Engel said much of his focus at the Natural History Museum will be on the promotion of the museum’s educational work, expanded since 2002 with the launch of the £35m Darwin Centre, the first phase of which opened earlier this year.
‘The commitment to entertaining and engaging, family friendly exhibitions will continue,’ said Engel.
‘The Darwin Centre is about opening up the behind-the-scenes part of the museum with daily events where the public can meet the scientists and understand their work,’ he added.
The Natural History Museum is one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations, with three million visitors each year, according to the museum.