Kathleen S. Bartels
Director, Vancouver Art Gallery
The Vancouver Art Gallery is Canada's fourth largest visual art museum that collects, originates, presents, and tours a broad range of historical and contemporary exhibitions. Kathleen Bartels has led the Gallery through a period of unprecedented growth and, in 2011, marked 10 years of leadership as the Director of this 80-year-old organization.
In the last decade, the Gallery has welcomed more than 3.5 million visitors, including 400,000 schoolchildren. Under Bartels' leadership, the institutional endowment has seen a fifty-fold increase from $200,000 to more than $11 million and the number of individual Gallery donors has grown by more than 240%. At the same time, the organization's earned revenues have increased from $1.6 million to $6.3 million annually. The Gallery's permanent art collection now includes more than 10,262 works, approximately 4,000 of which were acquisitions under Bartels' leadership.
Bartels' artistic direction has resulted in a significant transformation in the program, melding a dynamic mix of contemporary and historical exhibitions that bring the best of the art world to Vancouver and the best of Vancouver to the world. Through such ground-breaking exhibitions as Brian Jungen (2006), KRAZY! The Delirious World of Anime + Video + Video Games + Art (2008), Andreas Gursky: Werke/Works, 80-08 (2009), Fiona Tan: Rise and Fall (2010), and Ken Lum (2011), the Gallery has heightened its international reputation in the contemporary art community. Outstanding historical exhibitions have become another Gallery hallmark, including such original presentations as Raven Travelling: Two Centuries of Haida Art (2006), Vermeer, Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art: Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum (2009), Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man (2010), presented in a suite of dynamic Olympic programming, and the monumental Colour of My Dreams: The Surrealist Revolution in Art (2011), the most comprehensive exhibition of surrealist art ever presented in Canada. In addition, Ms. Bartels has co-curated three Gallery exhibitions, Kai Althoff (2008) and Anthony Hernandez (2009) and Kerry James Marshall (2010), with artist Jeff Wall, with a fourth exhibition, Martin Honert, scheduled for the summer of 2012. In 2009, the Gallery opened OffSite, the Gallery's outdoor exhibition space in the heart of Vancouver that offers a rotating program of innovative public art projects.
Education and public programs have also witnessed significant change and expansion in the last decade, a result of much closer collaboration with arts organizations, artists and educational institutions. With enhanced family programming, parents and youth are provided with the innovative Weekly Family Programs at the Gallery every weekend, as well as the fun and immersive Family FUSE Weekends held three times annually. The Gallery's highly successful, adult-orientated nighttime party, FUSE, continues to be THE place to see-an-be-seen in Vancouver with Live performances in the Gallery spaces, DJs, eclectic tours and unexpected surprises.
Bartels has received many awards during her distinguished career. She was named one of Vancouver Magazine's "Power 50" most influential leaders for seven consecutive years and was honoured with the prestigious Hadassah-WIZO "Women of Achievement" award. She is a member of the British Columbia Achievement Foundation Board, the Vancouver Foundation's Arts and Culture Advisory Committee, and the Public Affairs Committee of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD). Bartels proudly carried the Olympic Torch for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. In 2011, she became a Canadian Citizen, along with her husband Brian and son Nicholas.
The Gallery plans to construct a new building of approximately double the size of the current facility. With final confirmation pending of a city-owned site in downtown Vancouver, early lead funding of $50 million from the Province of British Columbia and private pledges totalling more than $40 million towards the estimated $300 million project---all prior to the launch of a public capital campaign---the Vancouver Art Gallery is well on its way to realizing this vision.