Longtime Director of Museum of Contemporary Art Australia to Depart

March 05, 2021

Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, who served as director of Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, has resigned following twenty-two years on the job. She has said she will depart the institution in October, two months ahead of the expiration of her most-recent five-year contract, in December, in order to facilitate a smooth transition for her replacement as the museum celebrates its thirtieth anniversary.

A tireless advocate for Australian art, Macgregor is famously credited with leading the institution from near bankruptcy to becoming the world’s most visited contemporary art museum. Welcoming fewer than a hundred thousand visitors annually at her arrival, the museum before Covid-19 struck was accommodating more than a million visitors per year, half of whom were under the age of thirty-five. Among her numerous accomplishments were the abolishing of admission fees, the establishment of the National Centre for Creative Learning, a major expansion of the museum’s premises, and the launch of a joint acquisition program with London’s Tate. A powerful fundraiser, she increased the museum’s philanthropic efforts to the point that donations to the institution in 2020, as the coronavirus decimated its programming, were five times those of the previous year.

“Liz Ann is a visionary,” said MCA chair Liz Tarabay in a statement, noting that under Macgregor the museum built a significant collection of Australian contemporary art with strong representation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait artists. “While we are deeply disappointed” over her departure, Tarabay said, “we understand and respect her decision and thank her for her enormous contribution to not only the MCA but contemporary art in Australia.”

Macgregor, who has said she does not want another “big job,” plans to return to her native Scotland before deciding on her next move. “Quite frankly, I really want to go and spend some time with my mum,” she told The Guardian, “and that’s not a euphemism.”