31 March 2015
Australia has lost a cultural icon and a leading figure of our arts sector with the passing of Mrs Betty Churcher AO FAHA.
Mrs Churcher was the first woman to become director of the National Gallery of Australia where, between 1990 and 1997, she significantly reshaped the gallery and expanded its profile through a series of blockbuster exhibitions as part of her vision to increase access to the visual arts.
Mrs Churcher will be most remembered for bringing a vivid appreciation and enthusiasm for art to the wider Australian community. The National Gallery, and indeed Australian audiences, benefited from Mrs Churcher’s passion and leadership which included the expansion of the Gallery’s collections and the development of new gallery spaces.
Under her directorship, the Gallery was rewarded with the confidence of international collecting institutions to share their collections for display in Australia. Mrs Churcher was also a strong advocate for the display of Australian art internationally.
Widely admired by her peers, staff and patrons of the National Gallery, Mrs Churcher was a beloved figure to many Australians through her generous sharing of her incredible knowledge and passion for the visual arts.
Mrs Churcher was awarded an order of Australia in 1990 for her services to the arts, particularly in the field of arts administration and education and in 2009 was awarded a Visual Arts Emeritus Medal by the Australia Council for the Arts, for her contribution to the understanding and appreciation of the visual arts by all Australians.
I extend my condolences to Mrs Churcher’s family and friends.