Donna Livingstone has been named as president and chief executive officer of Glenbow Museum, effective immediately.
For the past six months—since the departure of former president and CEO Kirstin Evenden, who was criticized in the media for misdirecting the museum financially and otherwise—Livingstone had been interim president.
Livingstone says that a number of measures have helped her reduce the Glenbow’s operating deficit since her arrival.
“A lot of it was freezing positions that we weren’t able to hire,” she says. “But you can only do that for so long and we stretched everything as far as we could.”
Livingstone says that an important priority, once the museum is able, is to hire an art curator again.
In the interim, with the art curator position frozen, the Glenbow has had guest curators in to curate exhibitions on different decades of artmaking in Calgary for its “Made in Calgary” series. Artist Ron Moppett has curated the 1970s section, which opens May 25, while Geoff Spalding, a former Glenbow president who is now artistic director of MOCA Calgary, will be curating the 1980s section. Alberta musician Corb Lund, who grew up raising cattle, also curated a recent show as a Glenbow artist-in-residence.
A collections and operations review has also provided new directions for the future, Livingstone says.
“Our mineralogy gallery—we are a human history museum, so it is unusual for us to have it—is one of the most popular galleries for our school programs,” she says. “But when we look at them in terms of colour and shape, there are connections we can make in our art programs.”
Though the Glenbow has suffered sudden changes over the past few years—like the departure of Evenden, and the departure of Spalding before her in 2009—Livingstone says she has high hopes for the institution.
“It’s been heartwarming [in the last few months] to involve people in the community in curating our collections and helping us imagine how we could use them,” she says. She also says she is moved by “how the Glenbow gives people a sense of place.”
Prior to becoming interim president at the Glenbow, Livingstone was director of cultural and community programs and director of the University of Calgary Press. She previously worked at the Glenbow from 1995 to 1998 as vice president, program and exhibit development and served as a governor from 2008 to 2012.