Introducing Gerard Vaughan
On 16 October, Dr. Gerard Vaughan AM was announced as the new Director of the National Gallery of Australia, a position he took up less than a month later on 10 November. Dr. Vaughan’s long and distinguished professional career has been divided between academia and the world of museums and galleries in both Australia and the United Kingdom. He brings to the Gallery a lifetime of experience in art history, museum administration and fundraising.
As an art historian his interests are broad, concentrating on the social history of art and specialising in the study of taste and art collecting, both private and institutional. After graduating from the University of Melbourne with a masters on the French Post-Impressionist painter Maurice Denis, he undertook doctoral research at Oxford University on the collecting of classical antiquities in late eighteenth-century Europe, concentrating on the structure and operation of the art market in Rome. He became a Research Fellow of Wolfson College and was appointed Private Secretary to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1989.
In 1994, he was appointed Director of the British Museum Development Trust in London, where he was closely involved in planning the rebuild of the British Museum with Norman Foster’s Great Court at its centre and was responsible for securing the majority of the funding from the private sector. He returned to Melbourne in 1999 to become director of the National Gallery of Victoria with a brief to oversee the gallery’s complete redevelopment, from reorganising and enlarging the interior spaces of the existing building on St Kilda Road to constructing the new building in Federation Square. A major program of Australian and international exhibitions was launched and the NGV soon became the most visited museum in Australia.
Dr. Vaughan’s credentials in fundraising have been proven in both academic and arts institutions. As Deputy Director of Campaign for Oxford, he was involved in the first US-style major fundraising campaign undertaken by any university in Europe. The campaign secured the equivalent of one billion Australian dollars. During his directorship in Melbourne, more than $300 million was raised from private philanthropic sources and many important works of art were acquired through major fundraising campaigns such as the Masterpieces for Melbourne—launched in 2008 to develop the collections.
After stepping down in Melbourne in 2012 and returning to academia for two years at the Australian Institute of Art History at Melbourne University (where a major project has been research for a history of private art collecting in Australia, to be published by Melbourne University Press), Dr. Vaughan has returned to the gallery and museum sector and follows in the prestigious footsteps of James Mollison AO, Betty Churcher AO, Brian Kennedy and Ron Radford AM in becoming the fifth director of the National Gallery of Australia.