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The National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada

CURATORS CUT AT NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA

June 6, 2011

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The National Gallery of Canada’s economic hardships came to a head last week when it laid off five members of its 24-person curatorial staff, including curator of European art Graham Larkin and curator of modern Canadian art Denise Leclerc, plus the museum's assistant curator for prints and drawings, the assistant curator of contemporary art and a curatorial assistant in Canadian art. Cuts in staff are an old story in the museum business, though typically curators are spared.

According to CBC News, the staffing reductions are part of the museum’s attempt to reduce the number of curatorial departments from seven to five, a move that is designed to reduce if not eliminate the museum's $400,000 deficit. The new round of cuts follow more severe budget reductions in 2010, which led to the dismissal of 27 employees and cuts in programs aimed at children, teens and seniors.

The remaining curators expressed concern over how to fill in the gaps. "We are going to have to figure out how we are going to pick up the pieces and who is going to cover for the knowledge areas we have lost,” Charles Hill, the curator of Canadian art and a union rep, told CBC.

National Gallery CEO Marc Mayer, a Canadian citizen who has also worked in the U.S. as curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and deputy director at the Brooklyn Museum, put as positive a spin on the news as he could. “We still have the largest group of curators working at any museum in Canada,” he said, adding that the move will help reduce overstaffing “awkwardness.” He said he plans to hire again in the next six months, namely to appoint a new junior curator.

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