National Gallery of Canada Lays Off Four Staff, Including Indigenous Art Curator & More Trending News


Four senior workers members on the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) in Ottawa have been laid off on Friday, November 11 in a transfer that the museum describes as half of a broader “restructuring” effort. Among the staffers affected is Senior Curator of Indigenous Art Greg A. Hill, who stated on social media that he was let go as a result of he disagreed with museum management on how the NGC ought to greatest embody Indigenous values.

Deputy Director and Chief Curator Kitty Scott, Director of Conservation and Technical Research Stephen Gritt, and Senior Manager of Communications Denise Siele have been additionally let go final week. Their departure marks a interval of continued instability on the museum, which not too long ago noticed the departure of Director and Chief Operating Officer Sasha Suda from her submit in July after a three-year tenure. In the interim, the director and CEO place sits vacant, with Angela Cassie quickly entering into these positions.

“The workforce changes are the result of numerous factors and were made to better align the Gallery’s leadership team with the organization’s new strategic plan,” Cassie stated in an inside memo saying the departures of the 4 workers members.

Curator Greg Hill took to Instagram to supply his personal perspective. “After 22 years at the National Gallery of Canada, earlier today I was declared surplus and told I no longer have a job, effective immediately,” wrote Hill, a Kanyen’kehaka member of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.

“I want to put this out before it is spun into meaningless platitudes,” Hill continued. “The truth is, I’m being fired because I don’t agree with and am deeply disturbed by the colonial and anti-Indigenous ways the Department of Indigenous Ways and Decolonization is being run.”

In response to Hyperallergic’s request for remark, an NGC spokesperson responded that “privacy obligations prevent us from discussing personnel matters.” As of publication, Scott, Gritt, and Siele couldn’t be reached for remark.

In an interview with Hyperallergic, Hill questioned the museum’s justification for the termination of his employment, explaining that he had held the one endowed place within the gallery “in a department that’s been chronically understaffed and remains so — where there’s no basis for declaring a surplus.” In Hill’s view, he pushed ahead uncomfortable questions that museum management was not keen to grapple with. In the spring, he led an effort to include the VP of Indigenous Ways and Decolonization — a brand new place that had been established in March on the museum — into the Indigenous Art division. That spurred him to guide discussions probing what decolonization meant on the museum. 

“In my role as curator, decolonizing has many faces. One of them is representation — making space for Indigenous artists to be seen in the collection — and that was already being done,” Hill stated. 

“So what else can decolonization be? You can recognize first that the institution’s origin is in colonialism, that museums are storehouses of the treasures of imperialism. So how do you begin to break it down?” Hill proposed a litany of questions that, from his perspective, went unanswered, comparable to these regarding the repatriation of historic collections, the decolonization of sure “ways of thinking” entrenched at museums, and Indigenous modes of governance.

Hill’s abrupt removing leaves the longer term of the endowed senior curator place nebulous. In 2007, residence builder and philanthropist Michael Audain and his spouse Yoshiko Karasawa donated $2 million to the NGC to ascertain the Audain Curator of Indigenous Art Endowment, meant to safe the curator place in perpetuity. (Audain couldn’t be reached for remark.)

During his tenure on the NGC, Hill co-curated an expansive survey exhibition together with the works of over 80 up to date Indigenous artists globally and gained the Indspire Award for the Arts in 2018. 

“I use a pretty strong word in saying that it was anti-Indigenous. What I mean by that is if you’re holding the space of a department that has the role and responsibility of advancing change in this area, and you don’t do anything, then you’re actually working against the goals of not only the institution with stated goals in that area, but also the communities that you’re supposed to be supporting and representing,” Hill stated. 

National Gallery of Canada Lays Off Four Staff, Including Indigenous Art Curator

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National Gallery of Canada Lays Off Four Staff, Including Indigenous Art Curator

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National Gallery of Canada Lays Off Four Staff, Including Indigenous Art Curator

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