The McMichael began its hunt for a new director in Fall 2015, with the gallery’s Board of Trustees finally announcing Tuesday August 2nd that Ian A.C. Dejardin was chosen from the short-list of candidates to take on the role. Andrew W. Dunn, Acting Chair of the Board of Trustees, elaborated on why Dejardin is fit for the job, stating that ‘Ian is a globally recognized leader in historical art with a passion for Canada and Canadian art. During his leadership at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, he coordinated a succession of record-breaking shows and more than doubled annual attendance.’
Dejardin is also well-versed in luring visitors to a gallery outside a city’s centre. The Dulwich Picture Gallery is located in southeast London, requiring art enthusiasts to make a considerable trek versus visiting London’s other major galleries including Tate Britain, Tate Modern, The National Gallery, and more. The McMichael, located in Kleinburg, Ontario, likewise faces the same unique challenges (and potential benefits) of operating outside the city centre.
Dejardin’s Dedication To Canadian Art
With a self-described ‘passion for Canadian art,’ and having established himself as both an interpreter and promotor of Canadian art, Dejardin knows his subject well. He played a significant role in exposing Brits and Europeans to Canada’s Group of Seven with the critically acclaimed Painting Canada exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in 2011. The show subsequently toured to Norway to open at the National Museum of Art, Architecture, and Design in Oslo, and onto the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands before ending its run in Canada with a 2013 homecoming at the McMichael.
Dejardin commented on his new appointment, ‘I am tremendously honoured and excited to join the world-class team at the McMichael. My experience as the Sackler Director, and previously Curator, of Dulwich Picture Gallery was highly rewarding for me professionally and personally.’ He added, ‘I am confident that my experience there will support me well as we work together to deliver on the ambitious plans for the McMichael and The Art of Canada (an official mark of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection).’
Several other leading Toronto museum and galleries have also recently hired non-Canadian senior leadership. In November of 2015, the Royal Ontario Museum announced Josh Basseches as Director and Chief Executive Officer. Two months later, in January of 2016, the Art Gallery of Ontario announced Stephan Jost, the then-head of the Honolulu Museum of Art, as the Michael and Sonja Koerner Director and CEO.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Dunn thanked the search committee, and acknowledged and thanked Interim Executive Director Nathalie Mercure, who has presided over the museum for the past ten months. Mercure will continue in her current position until Dejardin is in place.
About The McMichael Canadian Art Collection
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and receives support from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, as well as its eponymous McMichael Canadian Art Foundation. In addition to temporary touring exhibitions, its permanent collection holds over 6,000 artworks by Canadian artists with paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, in addition to First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists.