The Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal.

Montreal Museum Staff Step Forward in Support of Director’s Firing

More than 100 current and former Montreal Museum of Fine Arts staff members have signed an open letter supporting the controversial ousting of the institution’s director, Nathalie Bondil.

Since Bondil’s sudden dismissal, in July, several petitions advocating on her behalf have circulated and have been given play in various media outlets. The staff members’ letter, released August 10, exhorts, “[E]nough is enough. We who have signed this letter are employees of the MMFA; we are the ones aware of what truly happened, having experienced the troubling events first-hand.”

Bondil is alleged to have overseen a “toxic” culture during her tenure at the museum. The 89 MMFA staffers and 18 former employees who signed the letter contend that media coverage in the wake of her abrupt departure has been “distorted” and that Bondil has portrayed herself as a victim. “[W]e are deeply offended that [she] has publicly described herself as the victim of ‘a lynching.’ In 2020, this shows a shocking disconnect with the times and the Museum’s humanist values she supposedly espouses. How dare she make such an egregious statement after everything she has done and allowed to happen?”

Following the letter’s release, Bondil told the Montreal Gazette, “I will just say I am very sad . . . I would like to see facts.”

Bondil was the first woman to head the MMFA, where she began in 1999 as a curator of European art. Among her high-profile supporters are Thomas Bastien, the museum’s former director of health and wellness, responsible for a petition supporting Bondil; and Quebec culture minister Nathalie Roy, who opened an investigation into Bondil’s firing.

The letter invites Roy to speak with the signatories directly to address the issues that led to Bondil’s dismissal. “Harassment and intimidation were daily occurrences, often taking place before witnesses, especially during exhibition installations,” the letter says. “Such behaviours were tolerated and even supported by the former director general.”