Ousted MMFA Director Nathalie Bondil Moves to Paris’s Institut du Monde Arabe

April 26, 2021

Nathalie Bondil, who this past summer was forced out as director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) after clashing with the institution’s board, will head up the museums and exhibitions division of the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA), Paris. Founded in 1987 for the purpose of promoting Arab civilization, art, knowledge, and aesthetics, the Parisian institution occupies a Jean Nouvel–designed structure on the city’s Left Bank and is jointly operated by France and twenty-three Arab nations.

“We chose Nathalie Bondil because of her personal and professional profile, and the outstanding work she had done in thirteen years to raise the international statute of the MMFA,” said Claude Mollard, adviser to Jack Lang, the former French culture minister who chairs the IMA. Bondil was selected by a jury chaired by Yannick Lintz, head of the Islamic department at the Louvre Museum, to fulfill a three-year mandate aimed at increasing the IMA’s presence both locally and internationally. In her new role, she will propose new projects and secure their financing, and forge the partnerships necessary to bring them to fruition. Among her first tasks will be that of expanding and reshaping the IMA’s galleries to allow for a more comprehensive display of the institution’s considerable collection of historical and contemporary Arab art.

Bondil was the first female director to helm the MMFA. Her July 13 firing from the institution was contentious, with MMFA board president Michel de la Chenelière claiming that she was dismissed over her failure to address a “toxic” workplace environment and Bondil, who had worked at the institution for over two decades, alleging that her termination was a result of her unwillingness to sign a public statement endorsing the “rigor” of the museum’s hiring process. Chenelière ultimately stepped down as board chair, and the Quebec minister of culture assured an overhaul of the institution’s governance. Bondil sued the board for unfair dismissal and libel asking $1.5 million in damages; the suit is pending.