A Message from The McMichael Board of Trustees Chair Andrew W. Dunn
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is a special place. It’s a gallery surrounded by beautiful grounds, sculptures and walking trails, dotted with benches on which to sit and to reflect or sketch. The grounds are home to the cemetery where Robert and Signe McMichael and six of the seven founding members of the Group of Seven are interred.
The world-class Collection boasts incredible works by Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, Canadian Indigenous artists, and a growing contemporary collection.
The decision by the McMichaels more than 50 years ago to donate their collection and their home and grounds to the Province of Ontario was visionary in many ways. The legacy they left has proven the test of time and has continued to grow and evolve. My wife, Christine, and I got to know the McMichaels in their later years, and truly appreciate this opportunity to help shape the direction of what they started.
I have a love for art and enjoy spending time in beautiful surroundings. I am honoured to be serving as Chair of the Collection at this time in its evolution. My predecessor and long-time friend, Upkar Arora, has done a superb job in his four years as Chair, and I feel fortunate to be inheriting the role after he has made such great progress.
I have enormous respect for Nathalie Mercure, the McMichael’s Interim Executive Director, who I have known for many years. Her leadership and attention to detail has played an important part in establishing the McMichael’s economic stability, and positioning the Collection for what I believe will be a very exciting next chapter.
Dr. Sarah Stanners’ artistic vision in her role as Director of Curatorial and Collections very much aligns with my own views of the direction for the McMichael, which is expansive and inclusive. The McMichael is Canadian but its exhibitions can and should draw upon the work of artists from around the world and from contemporary art, which helps to shape our development and appreciation of The Art of Canada.* Sarah’s enthusiasm is contagious, and I am excited about the lineup she has planned.
I am also excited to welcome Ian Dejardin as Executive Director in the spring. His self-effacing style is at odds with his deep expertise in Canadian, European and American historical art. His global experience and reputation will help advance the McMichael’s growth and help remind us of the strength of what The Art of Canada* has to offer the world.
Ian wowed art lovers with the record setting, Group of Seven-focused Painting Canada exhibition he mounted at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, which went to Norway and the Netherlands before finishing here at the McMichael. He did it again two years later with works by Emily Carr. His love for Canadian art, his genuine warmth and sense of humour make him the ideal leader for the Collection as the McMichael sets its ambitious course into the future.
I feel a sense of excitement among staff, volunteers, the Foundation, and the Board about the potential of the McMichael. We are at the dawn of a period of great advancement; with Douglas McDonald ensconced as the Foundation’s new chair, there is an alignment around creating a sense of vibrancy and relevance – a renewed focus on visitor experience in every dimension.
Over the next few years we hope to make many improvements to our facilities to provide additional spaces for meetings and events, larger and more accessible archives, new gallery spaces and engaging exhibitions, more options for food and drink, additional programs, and extra opportunities to connect with our expanding visitor and member base, which is comprised of individuals of all backgrounds – from Canadians who have lived here their whole lives, to those who have just arrived, to visitors from afar about to fall in love with the country we know so well, and who may help us see it all with a new perspective.
I am proud to be part of an energized and experienced Board and Foundation. We are aligned and passionate about the McMichael and its potential. There is an awareness of the work ahead of us but a desire to pitch in and a readiness to get it done.
I look forward to meeting more members and getting your ideas to help make the McMichael a better place – a place you want to visit over and over again.
*The Art of Canada is an official mark of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.