Angela Cassie, who stepped in as interim director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada in June 2022, after Sasha Suda departed to lead the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is leaving both roles. According to a statement issued by Douglas Chow, the Ottawa gallery’s director of communications, Cassie will return to her native Winnipeg to “start a new leadership position in Manitoba.” Chow praised Cassie, calling her a “steadfast and determined leader who has been completely committed to the important work we hired her to do in pursuit of major transformations at the National Gallery of Canada.” Cassie in an interview earlier this year had hinted that she would return to Winnipeg in June; however, it was widely expected at the time that she would remain in the roles.
Prior to taking over as interim leader, Cassie was the gallery’s chief strategy and inclusion officer. She sparked controversy last November with the unexpected firing of four senior curators: Greg A. Hill, the institution’s chief curator of Indigenous art; Kitty Scott, the museum’s deputy director and chief curator; Stephen Gritt, director of conservation and technical research; and Denise Siele, senior manager of communications. At the time, Cassie wrote in a memo to staff that “restructuring” was behind the shock dismissals which she cast as “the result of numerous factors and were made to better align the gallery’s leadership team with the organization’s new strategic plan.” Seven former high-level staff members sent a letter to the Canadian Heritage minister, contending that the firings and vacancies in crucial areas of expertise had led to a sense of instability among staff.
The gallery in late January placed job postings for the positions and, according to the Ottawa Citizen, hired a headhunter. The Canadian Heritage minister is responsible for choosing a leader from a list submitted by the gallery’s board of directors. No successor has yet been announced.