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  • Mar 03, 2021

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia director to step down


On March 3, Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) announced that its director of 22 years, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, will leave her role this October.

Speaking of her departure, Macgregor explained in a press release that, “succession has been very much on my mind since my 20th anniversary as Director in 2019,” and  the decision to leave this year, on the museum’s 30th anniversary, “seemed like the right moment to hand the reins over,” allowing for a new director to lead and evolve the MCA in its post-pandemic transition. Macgregor further added that while the decision was a difficult one, “It has also been hard to be cut off from family in the Northern Hemisphere during Covid-19, so I’m planning to return to the United Kingdom in October to spend time with family initially.” 

MCA chairperson Lorraine Tarabay commented that Macgregor “is a visionary who has expertly steered the Museum from the brink of insolvency when she arrived to [a] vibrant, thriving organisation” and that “While we are deeply disappointed to see Liz Ann go, we understand and respect her decision.”

Born in Dundee, Scotland, Macgregor took up MCA’s directorship in 1999 after serving as director of Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery beginning in 1989. Among her many contributions to the relatively new insititution, she negotiated a sponsorship deal with Australian telecommunications corporation Telstra in 2000 to enable free admission for the museum’s permanent exhibitions, which doubled MCA’s foot traffic within the first year alone and has since increased its audience  more than tenfold. She also spearheaded the AUD 53 million (USD 47.7 million) renovation of MCA’s neoclassical building in 2010–12, doubling its space with the addition of 4,500-square meters, including a new five-story wing. She established the National Centre for Creative Learning to create public programs for children in collaboration with artists, educators, and researchers.

Macgregor has received several accolades for her contribution to the arts in Australia, including the Centenary Medal in 2003, the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award in 2008, and in 2011, an Order of the British Empire (OBE) and the Australia Council Visual Arts Medal. From 2016 to 2019, she served as president of the International Council of Museums of Modern and Contemporary Art. 

The search for a new MCA director is currently underway.

Yuna Lee is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific

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