The MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Canada, has appointed John G. Hampton as its next executive director and CEO. Hampton had been the institution’s interim direction since August, and he succeeds Anthony Kiendl, who stepped down last July.
Hampton, who is a citizen of Chickasaw Nation and grew up in Regina, makes history as the first Indigenous person to run a major public gallery anywhere in Canada. He joined the MacKenzie in 2018 as director of programs, which have “centered around radical diversity, cultural health, writing art histories, and transformation,” according to a press release.
At the MacKenzie, he helped establish a digital lab and a partnership with the University of Regina that includes a curatorial fellowship focusing on decolonial practices. He also worked to restructure the institution’s Indigenous Advisory Circle, which included its first appointment of an Elder in Residence and chairing the MacKenzie’s newly formed Equity Task Force. Additionally, Hampton worked with the University of Regina and artist Divya Mehra to repatriate objects from the collection of Norman MacKenzie, who bequeathed his holdings to the forerunner to the University of Regina upon his death in 1936.
“The MacKenzie is my hometown gallery, and it has played an integral role in shaping some of my earliest understandings of the role of art and culture in our society,” Hampton said in a statement. “The MacKenzie has an exciting future ahead of it, and I intend to bring a spirit of interdependence, innovation, trust, wonder, and respect as we celebrate the deep art history of this land in tandem with the most innovative practices and conversations happening in Canada and beyond.”
Prior to working at the MacKenzie, Hampton was the executive director of the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba from 2016 and 2018, artistic director of Trinity Square Video in Toronto from 2013 and 2016, and a curator at the Neutral Ground Contemporary Art Forum in Regina between 2010 and 2013. He has also served as an adjunct curator at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, where he completed a Masters degree in curatorial studies in 2014.
In a statement, artist Sherry Farrell Racette, who was on the search committee for the MacKenzie’s new director, said, “We are particularly happy to see the MacKenzie follow its groundbreaking path in Indigenous curation—it was, as you know, the first public gallery to hire an Indigenous head curator—and now, we make history again by hiring the first Indigenous Executive Director and CEO of a public art gallery in Canada.”