London celebrations

Museum London’s new executive director is ready to learn more about the city

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Julie Bevan saw the job ad in a newspaper, cut it out, and her life plan was drawn up.

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She was 16, still in high school and dreaming of her future like all the other students.

But that announcement, for a curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery, was the catalyst that led Bevan to Carleton University where she earned a degree in art history, followed by a master’s degree with a focus on academics. critics and curators at the University of British Columbia. .

“It was my inspiration,” said Bevan, the new executive director of Museum London, who will replace Brian Meehan who retires on April 4.

“I put that ad on my bulletin board and I still have that ad with me to this day.”

Bevan comes to London from Nanaimo, British Columbia, where she worked as the first Director of Culture and Events, after serving for several years as Managing Director of the Nanaimo Art Gallery. Previously, Bevan served as the Public Programs and Publicity Coordinator at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia and also served as the Adult Education Coordinator at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.

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Meehan is retiring after more than 20 years at the museum overseeing its day-to-day operations, special events such as the museum’s 80th anniversary last year and the 2018 $3.5 million renovation dubbed the Center at the Forks. which enabled the museum to incorporate the views overlooking the fork of the Thames. He oversaw a team of 18 full-time and 15 part-time people, not to mention dozens of volunteers.

Bevan brings over a dozen years of management and leadership in the arts to London, but his leadership qualities are in his genes.

Born in Welland, Bevan’s mother, Linda, was a teacher and her father Vince, a police officer.

“My parents used to take me to the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum and it sparked in me a sense of wonder and curiosity, but also a sense of belonging,” Bevan said.

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“I’m very proud of my father, but I learned a lot about leadership from both my parents.”

London’s impact on the artistic community in Canada is part of what attracted Bevan to Museum London.

She highlighted the city’s recent designation as a UNESCO City of Music, the artist-run Forest City Gallery, the impact of London artist Jack Chambers and others (including the late Greg Curnoe and Tony Urquhart, who died last week), and the formation of CARFAC (Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadien), which grants artists copyright protection.

“London, its people, its artists and its institutions are important to the history of art in Canada,” said Bevan. “There’s so much creative activity going on there and that really drew me to this position.”

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The city’s strategic plan and the importance of culture for the city’s future was another draw, she added.

“It really struck me that art and culture were so prominent in the plan and it really resonated with me.

“There is a big place for Museum London in this plan for investing and supporting culture. . . I think there is great potential for storytelling and sharing ideas and engaging the different artistic and creative communities, the opportunity to tell stories from all different perspectives.

Bevan moves to London with her husband Chad, a web developer who studied sculpture at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and two school-age children. The family have rented a house in south London and are expected here in March.

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Beyond her leadership qualities, Bevan describes herself as “hardworking, tenacious and focused” with a network of mentors, including Meehan, who have helped support her over the years.

“I’m passionate about learning and strategic planning,” Bevan said. “I’m a hard worker and good at seeing the big picture and seeing how all the different pieces fit together.”

There’s no doubt Bevan will miss the West Coast, having lived less than a 10-minute walk from the ocean which she could also see from her home.

“I was sitting by the ocean with my kids watching divers today,” Bevan said. “But it will still be there after I leave for London and I will have the opportunity to visit it.”

Once in London, Bevan plans to spend time exploring the city and his team at the museum.

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“I want to know how the museum fits into conversations about the environment, social change and how it helps to promote the physical and mental wellbeing of people in London and how it contributes to community resilience and helps build community empathy,” she said.

“It’s an honor and a great opportunity. Museum London is poised to become increasingly influential, dynamic and responsive to meeting the challenges of our times and the needs of the diverse peoples it serves. There is unlimited potential to activate and grow the museum’s collection, to bring Southwestern Ontario artists, stories and ideas into global dialogue, to connect deeply with audiences and to co-create thriving and creative communities.

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Twitter.com/JoeBatLFPress

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