Institutional Personality

The National Portrait Gallery of London recently released an online collection catalogue and made some of the institution’s historical records available online. The Gallery’s institutional records were previously not accessible to the general public and include a number of insights into the unique history of the institution.

One of the more shocking bits of institutional history released is a document which examines a murder-suicide occurred in the the Gallery’s east wing in 1909. The Gallery’s records also include a report which highlights the rat problem the Gallery faced during WWII. The majority of the previously unreleased institutional history focuses on exciting, bizarre, and exceptional events.

The inclusion of interesting anecdotes in an institutional history allows for the history of the Gallery to appeal to a wider audience. By placing emphasis on unique occurrences at the Gallery, the Gallery’s past becomes interesting, making people want to know more about the institution itself. I think the release of this material to the media was a great public relations move by the Gallery. This release has allowed the Gallery to gain a more youthful and interesting personality in the face of a public which isn’t always interested in history, art, or museums.

The Portrait Gallery that never was.

The dream of a Canadian Portrait Gallery has died, possibly for good. Following the creation of the Gallery in 2001, the Gallery has faced a number of challenges including a lack of an institution. However, despite this lack of permanent building the Gallery managed to stage exhibitions at both the Museum of Nature and the Science and Technology Museum this summer.

It was recently announced that the Portrait Gallery of Canada will no longer exist in it’s current format. Some of the functions of the Gallery will be taken over by Library and Archives Canada. However, it is unclear what resources will be available for exhibitions, staffing, digitization, and purchasing of new works. What details are available can be seen here. The Gallery’s demise is yet another blow to the Canadian art and heritage community. This development may result in the diverse portraiture art and history of Canada being lost to the Canadian public.