June 2013, saw one of the most exciting announcements ever come out of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia: The donation of a huge cache (1,307 in total) of famed photographer Annie Leibovitz’s original photographs to our regional art museum. Included in the collection, which numbers over 2,000 prints, are some of Leibovitz’s most iconic images: John Lennon and Yoko Ono, taken just hours before he was killed; the naked and pregnant Demi Moore; Queen Elizabeth II; the Blues Brothers. It is reportedly worth $20 million.
The buzz created by the deal went national and international. Clearly, the AGNS had lucked into a wonderful blast of philanthropy from the collection’s owners, the family of Al and the late Faye Mintz, who were looking for a smaller gallery as a home for a sure-to-be popular attraction. In 2013, AGNS CEO Ray Cronin called the photos “one of the most transformative additions to the collection” and that they would probably be exhibited in 2014.
Since the initial news release, however, what should have been a great story has turned sour. 2014 came and went, as did 2015, and now almost half of 2016, and there is still no established date for the exhibition of Leibovitz’s pictures. In the meantime, Ray Cronin has been let go as CEO and nobody seems to know what exactly is going on at the AGNS.
Whether we see the explanation before we see the Annie Leibovitz photos that were donated by the Mintz family is an open, ongoing question.
How something that began with such goodwill could end so badly casts a long shadow of over the whole of Nova Scotia’s cultural sector.
Questions of accountability and competence are at the heart of the matter.Read more