Donna Raetsen-Kemp is the RMG’s new Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining us, she was managing the Station Gallery in Whitby. Stop by and welcome Donna to the RMG!
The RMG: What were you up to before the RMG?
Donna Raetsen-Kemp: For the past ten years I spent my days leading the arts and culture charge at Station Gallery in Whitby. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work together with the community to transform the gallery to a thriving people place. We set our sights on creating a warm and welcoming cultural hub. A gathering place with opportunities for people to engage with art in ways that were meaningful to them – a place for everyone. I’m immensely proud of the work we did there.
RMG: What drew you to the museum sector?
DRK: There were fascinating local and global things at play. Globally, the museum sector was on the cusp of a sweeping change. I found that notion exciting. Locally, there was a small, once bustling art gallery that I took classes at as a kid that had become quiet. It had just undergone a significant renovation. The opportunity to breathe life back into Station Gallery was compelling.
RMG: What is your favourite museum?
DRK: In 2012 I was part of a Canadian delegation of arts leaders on an exchange to Venice and Florence. We visited more museums than I can count, but the museum that left its mark was the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. It’s one of those great museums that you’ve probably never heard of. Their approach is bold and innovative. They take a unapologetic stance about putting their community at the forefront of programming and redefining the museum experience. They invite the community to participate in simple and delightful ways. Palazzo Strozzi houses some of the most visited exhibitions — and has a reputation as the cool place to hang out. Their courtyard is open morning until evening with a wild array of activities that bring people together and connect them with artists and exhibitions. They bring stories to life. I still check in online regularly to see to what they’re up to.
RMG: What is your first memory of art?
DRK: It’s hard to pin down one defining moment. It’s a wonderful confluence of events and experiences.
RMG: What is one thing that you want to share with people about the RMG?
DRK: I simply want to invite everyone in. Our doors are wide open. Drop by for 5 minutes or stay for hours. Let’s get to know each other a little better. What would you like to see in your RMG? I can’t wait to get the conversation started.
Image: Donna poses a the RMG with Director of Finance and Administration, Olinda Casimiro.