Not waiting for a government report on the situation, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has begun its search for a new general director. A month after the controversial dismissal of general director and chief curator Nathalie Bondil, the museum has posted her position on an executive search website.
The undated French-language listing on the Boyden Canada website says the museum is looking for an art historian with at least 10 years’ experience in a comparable management position as well as national and international connections to oversee the museum’s programming, outreach and strategic direction.
The museum’s board dismissed Bondil in July, after an independent report last fall found evidence of a “toxic” workplace and psychological harassment of staff. Bondil has responded that the real reason for her falling-out with the board was over the promotion of curator Mary-Dailey Desmarais into the position of curatorial director, a job created to lighten Bondil’s load and improve communications with the curatorial department. Bondil had wanted a more experienced external candidate and declined to add her name to an announcement saying Desmarais’ promotion was unanimous.
Quebec Culture Minister Nathalie Roy has stepped into the dispute and is now waiting on an independent report that should determine if the board acted correctly in insisting on its own candidate for curatorial director and in dismissing Bondil from her role. A representative for Roy was not immediately able on Wednesday to comment on the museum’s decision to move ahead with replacing Bondil.
Bondil was unusual in filling the roles of both general director and chief curator at the museum. Most large museums separate the two, leaving the director to manage the big picture while the chief curator oversees the content of exhibition programming and research. When appointed director in 2007, Bondil kept her previous job as chief curator and continued to organize temporary exhibitions. The new job posting stipulates that the successful candidate will work with the curatorial director to plan exhibitions. It features a long list of duties, including taking an entrepreneurial approach to partnerships, overseeing budgets, maintaining the museum’s international and national status, and building good relations with staff and unions.
The museum’s press office pointed out Wednesday that in a July 20 statement board chair Michel de la Chenelière had said the process of selecting Bondil’s replacement was now underway and would not comment further on the job posting.