28 December 2023

New chief will take on role at Albury's art museum in January 2024

| Vanessa Hayden
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Murray Art Musuem albury building

The Murray Art Museum in Albury will be under the watchful eye of Blair French when he takes on the CEO role in January. Photo: Supplied.

Blair French is Murray Art Museum Albury’s new CEO and will take up the role in January 2024.

Mr French comes to the museum with extensive leadership experience within the not-for-profit arts and cultural sector, most recently as CEO of Carriageworks in Sydney.

“I’m looking forward to the move and to connecting with the region and its people more closely,” he said.

“I know the museum has a strong team and a great program planned for 2024, including the National Photography Prize in March, so it’s a wonderful time to be coming on board.”

As an experienced curator and writer with a longstanding engagement with Australian photography, Mr French has been following the work of the museum for many years.

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“MAMA has continually challenged the notion of a regional art museum,” he said.

“It has been ambitious and intelligent in its artistic choices. It works closely with local communities whilst participating in global conversations. It demonstrates care and intelligence in the way in which it works with First Nations artists.

“It continues to interrogate its reason for existing and responds to that cultural responsibility in ways that make it an exemplary model for art museums nationally.”

Blair French

Blair French has extensive experience in the non-for-profit arts and cultural sector and was recently the CEO at Carriageworks in Sydney. Photo: Supplied.

“I’ve found it always fascinating to visit and exciting to partner with. It will be privilege to lead MAMA through the next stages of its evolution,” he added.

Mr French’s prior roles include director of curatorial and digital at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (2013-2019); executive director of Artspace Visual Arts Centre (2006- 2013); associate director at Performance Space (2002-2005); and program manager (1996-1999) and acting director (1998-1999) at the Australian Centre for Photography.

MAMA is now one of the most visited art museums in the state and has earned a reputation for its original, innovative programming, ambitious artwork commissions, and an increasingly significant permanent collection.

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Janet Osborne, chair of the museum’s independent board, MAMA Ltd, said they were thrilled with the appointment.

“Blair is a highly accomplished arts leader and we are really excited to have him accept this position as MAMA moves towards becoming an independent entity,” she said.

“He brings with him a wealth of knowledge, skills and understanding about leading a modern arts organisation and the museum will benefit greatly from his vision and understanding.”

AlburyCity CEO Frank Zaknich announced the appointment after a nationwide search for the museum’s next leader.

“AlburyCity is confident that Blair will be a great asset for the museum, and for the region more broadly.

‘We look forward to welcoming Blair to the city and supporting him as he leads the next, significant chapter of the museum’s life,” Mr Zaknich said.

“This is the vision we had for the museum when we underwent the redevelopment in 2015 – to be one of the leading arts and cultural institutions in Australia, to be progressive in our approach and to find expanded ways to stimulate and energise the cultural life of the region.

“The board and AlburyCity together look forward to the contribution that Blair will make to the ongoing work of the museum.”

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