The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) says it is immediately terminating the contract of director general and chief curator Nathalie Bondil following what it describes as “disturbing testimonies from employees reporting an obvious deterioration in its workplace climate.”
The board of directors terminated the contract “with regret” and the decision is “applicable as of today,” according to a statement issued on Monday.
Since 2019, the museum has seen several key employees leave. The organization says it has been made aware of disturbing testimonies from employees.
Last October, the union alerted the board of directors. Cabinet RH, an external firm, was then hired and mandated to shed light on the situation.
The firm’s report notably mentioned a significant and multifactorial degradation of the work climate, described by certain employees as “toxic,” according to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
The gravity of the reported facts quickly led to the board of directors to “initiate discussions with Ms. Bondil in order to find solutions to this situation that was deemed unacceptable,” it added.
The board reports “repeated attempts” over the past few months to find a solution, arguing that it “came up against Ms. Bondil’s inflexibility and her denial of several conclusions, however without appealing the report.”
“Given the gravity of the facts reported, our commitment to the employees who convey the Museum’s values on a daily basis was unequivocal,” said Michel de la Chenelière, chairman of the museum’s board.
The museum’s statement says Bondil’s alleged refusal to accept a settlement proposal “that would have allowed all parties to begin a smooth transition by the end of her contract scheduled for the end of June 2021” convinced the board of directors to end at once her job general manager and chief curator.
“It is regrettable that a remarkable association of more than 21 years between the Museum and Ms. Bondil ends in this way,” said de la Chenelière.
With the departure of Bondil and until the appointment of a successor, the executive committee of the board of directors, represented by Michel de la Chenelière, will oversee the museum.
An international recruitment process will be set up shortly, according to the museum.