First female director appointed to Art Gallery of SA

The Art Gallery of South Australia has appointed its first female director in its 137-year history.

Brisbane-born Rhana Devenport will step into the role in October, after moving on from her place as director of the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki in New Zealand.

She is replacing Nick Mitzevich who is now leading the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

Rhana, who was this year appointed an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the arts, is the first woman to take on the director’s role in the art gallery’s history.

The announcement comes just days before the Art Gallery of SA’s exclusive exhibition Colours of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay wraps up on Sunday, July 29.

The paintings are from the renowned collection of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and chart the revolution of Impressionism, a 19th Century art movement known for its vibrant techniques and colour.

Claude Monet, Water lily pond, pink harmony, 1900, oil on canvas, 90 x 100 cm; Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France. © Musée d’Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt.

The Art Gallery of SA says the impressionist exhibition, featuring masterpieces by famous artists Monet, Cézanne, Renoir and Pissarro, among others, is on track to break the gallery’s record for ticketed attendances.

The previous record is 124,000 attendances, set by The Chinese Exhibition in 1977.

The Art Gallery of SA attracts more than 800,000 people per year.

Rhana brings with her 25 years’ experience in collection development and exhibition presentation across a number of national and international platforms, with her career allowing her to forge significant connections with artists, donors, benefactors and sponsors.

“I am deeply honored by this appointment, the Art Gallery of SA has forged an excellent reputation for its ambition, its outstanding collection, and a dynamic exhibitions program,” she says.

“I am thrilled to be leading this strong and innovative cultural organisation into the future.

“Great art museums are the heart of great cities and reflect how a city considers itself in the world and how it contributes to self-discovery, empathy and shared knowledge.”

The Art Gallery of South Australia’s new director Rhana Devenport.

Art Gallery of SA chair Tracey Whiting describes Rhana as an international arts leader.

Rhana’s arts history includes being the director of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Zealand and leading the development of the Len Lye Centre.

SA Premier Steven Marshall says Rhana brings a wealth of experience, leadership acumen and a genuine commitment and understanding of the role art plays in people’s lives.

“SA has a proud history of championing the role and contribution of women across all sectors of our community – from politics and Indigenous affairs, to science and the arts – and this appointment continues that legacy,” he says.

Rhana will relocate to Adelaide with her husband, multimedia artist Tim Gruchy.

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