British Columbia

CEO of Royal B.C. Museum stepping down as board of directors addresses 'internal issues'

Jack Lohman was hired in 2012 and his resignation is effective Friday.

Jack Lohman has been with the museum since 2012

Jack Lohman, photographed in 2018 at a museum event, has resigned from his job effective Feb. 12. (Canadian Press)

The chief executive officer of the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria is leaving his job, according to a statement from the institution.

A Tuesday news release said Jack Lohman, who has been with the museum since 2012, will not be returning after Friday.

The statement, which is light on details, said Lohman and the board of directors made the decision as the organization "addresses current internal issues."

It says Lohman's departure was mutually agreed to be in the best interests of the organization.

The board has asked board chair Daniel Muzyka to serve as acting CEO while recruitment is underway for a replacement.

Muzyka, during a Jan. 18 interview on CBC's On The Island, said at the time, the board was waiting for the results of a third-party public service agency investigation into allegations of racism among museum staff.

He said he expected the findings to be objective and thorough.

Dan Muzyka, chair of the Royal B.C. Museum board, will be taking over as acting CEO while recruitment begins to replace Jack Lohman. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Racism allegations

The investigation was triggered after Lucy Bell, a Haida nation member, quit as head of the First Nations Department and Repatriation Program claiming the institution was home to discrimination, bullying and white privilege.

After Bell left, some of her colleagues signed a letter of support for her and urged museum management to make changes.

A diversity survey was also conducted among staff members after Bell walked and some of the feedback echoed Bell's observations and experiences.

"The survey results were not good," said Muzyka.

On Tuesday, the same day the museum announced Lohman was leaving, the museum's Indigenous collection curator took to Twitter to announce this would also be his last week.

"I am happy to leave that wicked place behind," wrote Troy Sebastian, describing the museum as a "bastion of white supremacy" that has gotten worse since Bell raised her concerns.

The museum statement regarding Lohman's departure did not mention racial allegations, did not confirm if the public service agency investigation was complete, nor did it indicate what its findings might be. 

In January, Muzyka told CBC that staff and the board of directors would be receiving unconscious bias training.

As of Feb. 9, Jack Lohman is still listed as president of the Canadian Museums Association. 

Prior to his role in Victoria, he also worked as the director of the Museum of London, chairman of the National Museum in Warsaw and chief executive of Iziko Museums in Cape Town.