Nick Mitzevich, the current director of the the Art Galllery of South Australia and a former director of the University of Queensland Art Museum and Newcastle Region Art Gallery will lead Canberra’s National Gallery of Australia (NGA) from July 2.
Mitzevich takes over from Gerard Vaughan, who will retire after he was appointed in 2014 and championed by the gallery’s chairman Allan Myers who was Vaughan’s biggest fan during both their decade long stints at Melbourne’s NGV.
Public gallery director appointments in Australia are made after candidates have proven themselves to be controversy-free to the politicians who appoint them.
The only headlines about art galleries politicians want to see are those that describe how many visitors come through the gallery doors and how many tourist dollars have been pumped into the region.
They do not like stories about gallery union problems, accusations of stolen antiquities, offensive art or protests by artists about gallery sponsors or contractors who make money from refugee detention camps.
Gallery directorships come from the small pool of men (almost always) and who have worked their way up from regional gallery directorships. Otherwise, they come from the smaller pool who went overseas in their twenties and proved themselves a bright spark in a prestigious gallery before coming home to senior jobs than can pay up to $500,000 a year.
The successful candidates are always Australian despite the “global search” that loudly accompanies the recruitment search. Canberra has still not recovered from the experience of Irishman Brian Kennedy in the job at the NGA in the late 1990s to early 2000s which left nearly everyone in tears.