Kitty Scott

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Kitty Scott. Deputy Director Chief Curator, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada

Kitty Scott. Deputy Director Chief Curator, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada

Years professionally involved in the contemporary art museum field: 31 years.

Short bio. Describe also your involvement with CIMAM and the museum community:

I have been active in the museum field with a focus on contemporary art for over 30 years.

After earning my MA, Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art (1995), I held posts including Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, and Chief Curator at the Serpentine Gallery, London, UK. During my tenure as Director of Visual Arts at The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (2007-2012), Canada, I oversaw the artist residency program, the Walter Phillips Gallery and the Banff International Curatorial Institute. In 2012, I was a core agent for Germany’s dOCUMENTA (13) and hosted its Retreat at Banff.

Following this, I worked as Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada (2012-2019), where I developed an international contemporary art program and worked closely with patrons to build the collection of international, Canadian and Indigenous contemporary art. I curated Geoffrey Farmer’s exhibition at the Canadian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2017) and, together with Sally Tallant, the Liverpool Biennial (2018).

Since 2020, I am Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the National Gallery of Canada, where I oversee the Library, Curatorial and Publication departments. I have organized many group and solo exhibitions including artists such as Francis Alÿs, Kevin Beasley, Janet Cardiff, Paul Chan, Peter Doig, Brian Jungen, Janice Kerbel, Ragnar Kjartansson, Duane Linklater, Ken Lum, Gordon Matta-Clark, Silke Otto-Knapp, Ron Terada, and Haegue Yang. I have contributed to many catalogues, books and journals.

Throughout this time, I have understood my role as curator to entail wider professional mentoring and development, whether through participation in CIMAM’s conferences, teaching at curatorial training programs, or serving as an adviser to younger colleagues across the globe.

Motivation Statement: How can you contribute to CIMAM's mission and strategic goals by being a Member of the Board? (i.e strategy, membership, fundraising, governance, network in strategic regions, availability, knowledge or skills in a specific area):

In January 2020 I arrived at the National Gallery of Canada, assuming the position of Deputy Director and Chief Curator at a moment of intense cultural reckoning around issues of equity and inclusion, the legacies of settler colonialism, and the politics of representation.

In support of our new strategic plan and brand, I have worked in collaboration with the senior leadership team and staff to address what it means to be a "national" museum in such a contested context – this means reassessing domains that range from organizational structure and hiring practices to exhibition and acquisition strategies.

This entailed a rapid pivot for a large museum that had become comfortable in its ways. For example, a major Dutch "Golden Age" exhibition, highlighting Rembrandt's development within the 17th-century Netherlandish art market, scheduled for Fall 2020, was rapidly revised to take into account Holland's role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and in mercantilist exchange with the Indigenous peoples of present-day Canada. We invited experts to help us revise wall texts and introduced a number of artworks by First Nations artists, modeling a form of interchange based on the two-row wampum belt that had symbolized Dutch-Indigenous equity. The revision of this exhibition in many ways became an exemplar of how the National Gallery seeks to conceive its exhibition program, and of the new ranges of expertise we have enlisted as we engage in the long, sometimes painful process of decolonization.

Given my broad international experience I am well positioned to actively support the mission of CIMAM to “ensure the continued recognition and sustainability of museums, collections, and archives of modern and contemporary art as contributors to the cultural, social, and economic well-being of society.” I am committed to a global perspective that acknowledges visionary practices and to finding answers to the complex and urgent challenges facing today’s modern and contemporary museums.

Describe briefly the expectations of your involvement as a CIMAM Board member and how you envision CIMAM's priorities in the next years:

As a CIMAM Board member, I expect to bring three areas of commitment to the fore:

  1. addressing issues of urgent social concern through museum programming, including but not exclusive to decolonization, Indigenous representation, and gender equity,
  2. encouraging more collaborative and open organizational structures that are responsive to JEDI+A concerns,
  3. mentoring new generations of museum leaders globally.