Interview – Liz Ann Macgregor

Liz Ann Macgregor was recently awarded a Museums & Galleries of NSW Individual Achievement award at the 2021 IMAGinE awards.

As the Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Liz Ann Macgregor has transformed the MCA into a thriving public gallery, with artists at its heart.

Liz Ann began her career in the art world as curator – and driver – for the Scottish Arts Council’s travelling gallery. Using a converted bus to take exhibitions to local villages, inner city estates, schools, hospitals and prisons, she discovered her love for introducing new audiences to the work of living artists. After working with the British Council for the Arts, in 1989 she became director of one of the UK’s leading contemporary art galleries, the Ikon Gallery.

In 1999, Liz Ann moved to Sydney to take up the directorship of the Museum of Contemporary Art at a time when the Museum was facing great challenges. She negotiated a sponsorship deal with Telstra in 2000 to introduce free admission and since then attendances have increased dramatically, doubling initially and continuing to climb each year. Funding agreements with the NSW Government and the Australia Council gave the Museum financial stability and encouraged further private sector support.

The 2012 redevelopment of the museum was a crucial part of Liz Ann’s vision of connecting audiences with artists. As well as new galleries for the collection and exhibitions, a series of new commissions puts artists centre stage in the building. The MCA’s new National Centre for Creative Learning and its continued commitment to outreach programs are critical to her concern for future generations. Her passion for bringing artists work into the wider public arena has led her to establish programs not only at Circular Quay but also in Western Sydney and across the state.

Liz Ann has also spearheaded the campaign to develop the MCA’s national and international profile, including a joint acquisition initiative with the Tate Modern, many of the artworks are currently included in the London exhibition, A Year in Art: Australia 1992.

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