Portrait Gallery of Canada names new executive director: Robert Steven, former AGB President & CEO starts next week

By Staff

April 27th, 2022



Some people manage to land on their feet when their job gets taken away from them

The Board of Directors of the Portrait Gallery of Canada (PGC) is pleased to announce that it has appointed Robert Steven, former president and CEO of the Art Gallery of Burlington, as its new executive director, effective May 2, 2022. Robert Steven will succeed Joanne Charette who has led the PGC through its first year of operation.

“Robert Steven is passionate about social issues and brings an excellent appreciation for the richness and diversity of the peoples who live in Canada,” said Lawson Hunter, Chair, Board of Directors, Portrait Gallery of Canada. “The Board was impressed by his demonstrated ability to rally community support for cultural projects from the ground up; his insight in current museum issues and practices; and his leadership experience. We look forward to working with him as we move forward with our vision to build a physical presence in the nation’s capital.”

Reporting to the Board of Directors, Robert Steven will play a highly visible role, representing and enhancing the positive reputation of the PGC with government officials, funding agencies, donors and the public. Steven will also be responsible for developing the PGC’s vision and strategic and operational plans; building on the PGC’s dynamic online exhibition and public programs; directing human resources and volunteers; managing financial resources; and advancing and tracking the progress and success of PGC initiatives.

“I am delighted and honoured by this opportunity to join with the exceptionally distinguished group of visionary leaders whose tireless work to create this important institution has brought the organization so far in such a short time,” said incoming executive director Robert Steven.

“To be part of the growth and development of such an ambitious new museum, dedicated to the individuals and identities found in this place we now call Canada—at this significant moment when the opportunities for mutual understanding, conciliation and systemic change are both greater and more urgent than ever before—is no less than a dream come true. It is the opportunity of a lifetime for anyone who believes in the impact that the experience of museums and of works of art can have on the lives of individuals and of communities,” Steven added.

“On behalf of the Portrait Gallery of Canada’s Board of Directors, I would like to thank Joanne Charette, who stepped out of retirement to assume the role of interim director while we were building our online presence,” said Lawson Hunter. “The PGC benefited from Joanne’s leadership experience with the Canadian Museum of Nature and the National Gallery of Canada, and we are grateful to her for her work ethic and commitment to our young
not-for-profit corporation.”

Robert Steven, former head of AGB will lead the Portrait Gallery of Canada

About Robert Steven
Robert Steven is a dedicated, forward-thinking and accomplished leader of arts and heritage institutions. He brings years of experience at the executive level, including six years as president and CEO of the Art Gallery of Burlington in Ontario and seven years as executive director and curator of the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie in Alberta. Robert Steven holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours Fine Arts Studio, from the University of Waterloo, and a Master of Museum Studies from the University of Toronto.

He also successfully completed the Museum Leadership Institute Program at the Getty Leadership Institute in Los Angeles, an intensive course for museum executives that addresses current trends and challenges in the museum field, leadership, strategy, organisational culture and change management. Robert Steven was named one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People in 2013 by Alberta Venture Magazine. He was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and served on the Government of Alberta’s Premier’s Council for Arts and Culture in 2009. As well, he currently serves as Vice President of Galeries Ontario/Ontario Galleries (formerly the Ontario Association of Art Galleries).



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