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July 23, 2010

AGO fires curator Dennis Reid

By Charles Moffat - July 2010.

ART HISTORY/CANADA - I have multiple art history books on my shelf written by Dennis Reid so it comes as a shock that the curator of the Art Gallery of Ontario has been forced into retirement, but without a public explanation.

“I am retiring, and I can confirm that the timing is not of my choice,” said Dennis Reid, at his home yesterday. He refused to comment on why he was forced into retirement. The 67-year-old Reid is a highly respected Canadian art scholar and member of the Order of Canada has been working for the AGO for 30 years. He was chief curator from 1999 to 2005, before becoming the director of collections and research and transferred again in 2009 to the role of chief curator of research.

Dennis Reid's retirement will officially begin August 31st.

What is disgusting however is that the current curator, Matthew Teitelbaum, of the AGO is paid $1,070,000 per year... and 23 full-time employees were laid off in April 2009 as a "cost cutting measure". And yet Teitelbaum continues to be paid such an outrageous salary.

Seriously, as a fellow art historian I could do that job for a FRACTION of the cost. $100,000 per year would be quite reasonable to me. And with $870,000 in savings the AGO could hire back the 23 employees they canned.

Colleagues of Dennis Reid are all shocked at the sudden loss to the art gallery.

“I think it came as a shock to a lot of us. A shock and a surprise,” says Fred Schaeffer, former chairman of the Canadian art historical committee. Schaeffer believes the gallery “probably made a mistake.” “There are not many left in Canada who are great Canadian art scholars and he [Dennis Reid] is one of them.”

“I think the real issue is the resources internally to manage and research and present the historic Canadian collections, and that is a loss to the AGO because Dennis knew the collections well,” says Charles Hill, a curator with the National Gallery of Canada.

“He’s one of the finest scholars in Canadian art that Canada’s ever had. He has really defined the field,” says Tom Smart, director of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and a former student of Reid's back when he was a professor at U of T.

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