A new director of programs. An expanded focus on Indigenous art and artists. A new set of public spaces and services. More money for acquisitions.
These are some of the benefits the MacKenzie Art Gallery is projecting after receiving a $25 million donation from an anonymous donor—the largest such donation in the gallery’s history—as well as a six-figure gift from local collector and philanthropist Lyn Goldman. The $25 million anonymous donation will become an new endowment fund, while Goldman’s gift will be put directly toward acquisitions, programming and organizational needs.
“Because the new [$25 million] funds are in an endowment, we will get earned income from the investment of that endowment each year,” says Anthony Kiendl, MacKenzie executive director and CEO, in a phone interview. “That gives us predictability and reliability; these funds are not just a one-time project or grant, we can really plan for the future.”
Part of that planning for the future made possible by the donation involves hiring for a new position, the director of programs. John G. Hampton, currently at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, will be moving to Regina to take on that role in early October. “I think it’s going to take the MacKenzie to another level of bringing curatorial and education together,” says Kiendl of the new position. “It’s going to pull us out of a traditional museum structure of having all these siloed programs.”
In recent years, the MacKenzie has refocused its direction on “expanding its reputation internationally as a centre for Indigenous artist exhibitions and collections” says Kiendl, and the recent donations “will allow us to focus more on our priorities.”
Already under its refocused mandate, the MacKenzie has collaborated on Indigenous youth programs with Montreal’s Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace. The gallery has also commissioned a large piece of public art, Duane Linklater’s Kâkikê / Forever, on its main entrance facade.
Last but not least, the MacKenzie is also currently refurbishing a 4,000-square-foot space on the main floor to host “new installation art and meeting rooms and a full service cafe and bar,” says Kiendl. Those renovations are intended to establish “the gallery as a meeting place, a place that people come together to engage in multifaceted creative experiences.” More programs for students and families at the gallery are also on tap thanks to the recent donations, which dovetails nicely with the reason Lyn Goldman donated to the gallery: namely, in memory of her brother, artist Tony Thorn, who was born in Regina in 1927.