The recent appointment of a new director at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal is contested and this event provides an opportunity for art lovers to take a look at the evolution of the Montreal's museums and their leadership within the community.
It is obvious that the success of a museum depends on its financial resources and then, the dynamism of its leadership.
The former directors like Pierre Théberge (Museum of Fine Arts) and Marcel Brisebois (Musée d'art contemporain) were great leaders who have helped the development of their respective institutions, not to say the whole popularity of museums in general.
Is it that these institutions have managed to find successors to take over from the directors who have retired? You might think not but we must take into account that society has changed and that the Internet has transformed the way how it protects and perpetuates the heritage.
Montreal has over 30 officially recognized museums, some of which are well known, others very little outside their city block.
If we were to make a classification of the management of museums in Montreal in 2009, we should place Nathalie Bondil first. She had several obstacles to overcome when she was appointed and she has succeeded brilliantly to overcome them. It should be added that she had in hands a museum very comfortable financially which has helped to facilitate her challenge.
In second place, we need to place the Museum of Contemporary Art, but its popularity is in large part most of the past. This institution was at one time almost at the same popularity level than the Museum of Fine Arts but the institution failed to maintain the success put forward by Marcel Brisebois when was the director. It should be noted, that Brisebois was very well supported by Manon Blanchette who brought to Montreal several daring exhibitions during her years. Marc Mayer wished to lead the institution on a global level but it did not happen. He preferred to left along the way and face another challenge that was presented to him and to go manage the prestigious National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
The appointment of Paulette Gagnon at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, replacing Mayer, led to protest. Several artists and gallery owners would have preferred to see a big name to take the management job rather than an employee who had worked over 30 years with the Montreal institution. Does a outsider would have been more profitable?
It remains to be seen but if there is a conclusion to remember is that Pierre Théberge, Marcel Brisebois, and Nathalie Bondil, have proved their talent. A museum is like a news media. His popularity is never bigger than the last of its success: a report for the media and an exhibition for a museum.
Good luck to all directions at the Montreal museum and be your next exhibits the proof of your real talent!
Bernard Bujold www.LeStudio1.com
Link Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal
Link Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal
Link Association des musées montréalais