Nathalie Bondil will no longer direct the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts after more than a decade at the helm. On Monday, the Montreal Gazette reported that the museum had terminated Bondil’s contract, effective immediately. The board had reportedly investigated Bondil’s “disturbing” behavior at the museum, which allegedly created a “toxic workplace environment.”
The Montreal Gazette report did not specify the nature of the allegations, but it said that a human resources firm contracted to investigate the claims found evidence of a “significant and multifactorial deterioration” among workers at the museum. The board had also reportedly been made aware of “disturbing testimonies” from employees.
Michel de la Chenelière, the president of the museum’s board, said in a statement, “Our primary responsibility, as members of the Board of Trustees and based on principles of good governance, is to ensure compliance with the organizational culture and values of this institution that has been a point of pride for Montrealers and Quebecers for 160 years. It was our responsibility to provide clarity on various rumors that had been circulating both within and outside the museum. Given the seriousness of the reported facts, our commitment toward the employees, whose daily actions exemplify the museum’s values, was without question.”
Bondil, who served as director general and chief curator, had reportedly been offered a deal earlier this month that would allow her to curate two exhibitions a year and to continue having her title and receiving her salary through June 2021, when her contract expired. She told La Presse, a Francophone Canadian outlet, that the deal was “totally unacceptable.” Meanwhile, Mary-Dailey Desmarais, a curator of modern and contemporary art, had been appointed to the newly created role of director of the curatorial division, which some saw as an attempt to shift some of Bondil’s duties away from her.
Bondil had directed the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts since 2007, when she became the first woman to lead the institution. She had first joined in 1999 as a curator of European art and was made chief curator in 2000. The board will temporarily lead the museum as it undertakes a search for Bondil’s successor.