The Queensland Art Gallery has doubled the salary of the person who will take over as its new director next month and lifted the total package to nearly $300,000. A short-list of four applicants for the prestigious position will be interviewed on March 23.

The State Government ran an international advertising campaign and hired the Melbourne branch of global executive recruitment firm Cordiner King to find a replacement for current director Doug Hall. Their advertisement for the position said any applicant would need an “international reputation and credibility”, as well as being a gallery management expert, an arts diplomat able to communicate with staff, government and investors, and be “enthusiastic and creative”.

The selectors, headed by former Queensland Premier Wayne Goss who is chair of the board of trustees, were not overwhelmed by top-quality applicants from overseas. The short-listed four are all from Australian public galleries, including one from the QAG.

Hall, who took up the post in 1987 after heading the Bendigo Art Gallery, leaves early next month after launching the QAG’s highly acclaimed new Gallery of Modern Art. Unlike Melbourne’s bifurcated National Gallery of Victoria whose pair of galleries are sliced in two by the broad St Kilda Road, the two in Brisbane are adjoining and form part of the city’s grand art precinct.

They are, however, distinguished as the QAG and the Gallery of Modern Art. Critics say the latter, despite its wonderful building, may alienate Queensland’s conservative art lovers with its emphasis on avant-garde works, as well as the ageing southerners who continue to flock north to the Sunshine State. Others have questioned the place of the purpose-built “cinematheque” within the new gallery, noting that film may be the most popular modern art form but asking whether an art museum is the right place for it.

Under Hall’s directorship, the gallery has developed strong links with Asia especially through its Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art series of exhibitions. In 1999, he was awarded the University of Queensland’s degree of Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa for his contribution to the visual arts in Queensland and in 2001 became a member of the Order of Australia. What the 50+-year-old Hall will do after he leaves is something of a mystery but he has said directing another gallery is not on the list.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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