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Stéphane Aquin. Photo: Jeff Elkins.
Stéphane Aquin. Photo: Jeff Elkins.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Names Successor of Ousted Director Nathalie Bondil

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) today announced Stéphane Aquin as its new director, Artnews reports. Aquin, who is currently chief curator of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, replaces Nathalie Bondil, who was forced out last summer amid allegations that she had contributed to a “toxic” workplace culture. 

Aquin, a Montreal native, spent nearly twenty years at MMFA, first from 1990 to 1992, and later from 1998 to 2015, before departing to helm the Hirshhorn, where he oversaw exhibitions including solo shows of Mark Bradford, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer as well as the politically themed group show “Manifesto: Art x Agency.” 

“It is with great pride that we announce the return of Stéphane Aquin to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. His impressive track record, combined with his knowledge of the MMFA, has made him an obvious candidate to fill the role of director,” said MMFA board chair Pierre Bougie in a statement.

Bondil’s firing—which was controversial, with large numbers of museum staff signing a letter applauding her ousting, and allies circulating petitions in her support—remains an issue. Bondil, the first woman to lead the museum, claimed she was dismissed for failing to support the appointment of Mary-Dailey Desmarais to a newly created top post at the museum, on the grounds that she did not believe Desmarais was qualified and that she was receiving the promotion because of her ties to a wealthy benefactor of the institution. Last month Bondil filed a $1.5 million suit against the MMFA board of trustees, contending that the board orchestrated a campaign of defamation against her.