$3M donated as National Gallery celebrates Marc Mayer’s time as director

Marc Mayer. Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada

After 10 years, Marc Mayer’s time as director of the National Gallery of Canada is coming to a close but he’s certainly going out with a bang.

An event Wednesday evening celebrating his tenure has helped raise $3 million for the gallery’s national and international outreach efforts. The amount raised — despite the Chagall deaccessioning controversy of this past spring and summer — was announced in a media release Wednesday afternoon.  

“For 10 years, Marc Mayer has led with vision and passion,” National Gallery of Canada Foundation Chair, Thomas d’Aquino, said in the release. “Shepherding the fortunes of Canada’s leading visual arts museum, a global centre of excellence respected around the world, is no small task. … Marc has responded admirably to these challenges, all the while vigorously defending the gallery’s professionalism and independence.”

The chair of the gallery’s board, Françoise Lyon, added: “As stewards of the country’s national museum for the visual arts, the Board of Trustees and the Director share a fundamental objective: to build an extraordinary national collection of art from across Canada and around the world, and to ensure that this collection is accessible to, and appreciated by, as many people as possible. In the pursuit of this goal, Marc Mayer’s tenure as Director has been most distinguished.”

The National Gallery of Canada Foundation was established in 1997. Since its formation it has raised more than $65 million and enabled donations of works of art valued at more $70 million.

Some of the highlights of Mayer’s tenure cited in the release are:

• Additions to the national collection such as Roxy Paine’s One Hundred Foot Line (2010) and Geoffrey Farmer’s Leaves of Grass (2012);

• The re-imagining of the Canadian and Indigenous Galleries for Canada 150

• The restoration of the Canada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

• The Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada.

The $3 million is made up pf contributions of:

• $1.3 million donated by Dr. John Lacey and his late wife Naomi Lacey. This will support the Naomi and John Lacey Art Incubator Prize which will help artist-run centres and small galleries across the country.

• $1 million donated by Carol Weinbaum and Nigel Schuster through The Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation for the Canadian Artists in Venice Endowment.

• $440,000 for the Canada and Impressionism 1880-1930 exhibition featuring Canadian paintings from public and private collectors that will travel to Germany, Switzerland and France, before coming to the Gallery in 2020.

• $260,000 for rebuilding the Gallery’s National Outreach programs and special initiatives to make the national collection more accessible through loans and exhibition partnerships across Canada.

As well, two pieces of art are being donated in Mayer’s name:

• The Last of the Hurons (Zacharie Vincent) (1838) by Antoine Plamondon from Fred and Beverly Schaeffer (Toronto);

• Parade, Party or Protest by Geoffrey Farmer (2003) from Gilles and Julia Ouellette (Toronto).

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.