Chair of Montreal Museum of Fine Arts steps down as former director sues over unfair dismissal
Former director Nathalie Bondil is suing the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for unfair dismissal and libel
The chair of the board of trustees at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Michel de la Chenelière, is stepping down, two months after firing the museum's director Nathalie Bondil.
On Friday, De la Chenelière said he will not ask for the renewal of his term at the annual assembly on 29 September, "so that the museum can open a new era". The same day, Bondil filed a lawsuit against De la Chenelière and 21 other board members with the Superior Court, asking for Can$1m (US$750,000) in moral damages and another Can$1m in punitive damages, for unfair dismissal and libel.
Without waiting for the assembly, the board chose Pierre Bourgie, a close ally of De la Chenelière's, to take his place as chairman and acting director. Bourgie, the head of a financial firm that sponsored the opening of a concert hall by the museum in an Anglican church, said on Radio Canada that "the crisis was over" and "everyone now was very happy at the museum".
However, he could soon be contradicted by an audit of the museum's management and board, commissioned by Quebecs Culture Minister Nathalie Roy, which is imminent. The minister, who said she was "flabbergasted" by Bondils sudden dismissal in July, has since ordered the museum to give back a Can$10m subsidy, which was earmarked for the construction of a new space dedicated to the painter Jean-Paul Riopelle.
Nathalie Bondil © Marco Campanozzi
De la Chenelière, who intends to stay on as a trustee, says he had to dismiss Bondil because of a "toxic climate" at the museum, which was pointed out by an investigation led by an independent firm. But since he refused to show the report to anyone, including the culture minister, the unions representative and Bondil herself, he was in the hot seat. Hundreds of members of the museum asked for the "revocation of his mandate" as well as the departure of ten other members of the board. The trustees reRead More – Source