New interim CEO to lead Remai Modern through transition phase

Lynn McMaster replaces Gregory Burke, who resigned last December.

Lynn McMaster replaces Gregory Burke, who resigned last December

Lynn McMaster, the woman tapped to lead Remai Modern during its transition from a recently launched art museum, replaces recently departed CEO Gregory Burke. (Remai Modern)

Lynn McMaster, a long-time museum chief originally from Regina, has been named the new temporary CEO of Saskatoon's Remai Modern Art Museum.

McMaster enters the picture at a key transition point.

She replaces Gregory Burke, who resigned last December. Burke is being investigated by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission for alleged workplace harassment, according to a document obtained by CBC News.

McMaster said she has the experience to steer the museum through this phase. 

"I'm certainly no stranger to leading organizations through periods of significant change," she said. "One of the most important things that I've learned is ... to keep the gallery's vision and mission front and center to everything that the board and the staff do.

"I'm really just here to keep that ball moving forward for them and so it wasn't a difficult decision to make," she said.

McMaster joined the city-owned museum on Wednesday.

She said her top priority is to help the museum find its permanent CEO, a process she said could take about a year. 

"You're looking for a leader and you want to get the right leader and you want to do it the right way," she said. "That takes a little bit of time. And so I'm here as long as the board needs me." 

McMaster was most recently CEO of Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia and previously spent close to 25 years with the Canadian Museum of History.

Sharing the workload 

McMaster's hiring reflects a recent change in how the museum is managed. Burke helped oversee both artistic and human resources areas. Those priorities will now be split between McMaster and a recently-hired chief operating officer (COO), Celene Anger.

"The need for this new [COO] role arose from the strategic priorities of the gallery while recognizing the existing heavy workloads of members of our leadership team," Remai Modern's former board chair, Scott Verity, recently told CBC News in an email.

The leadership structure at Remai Modern has changed to spread around what a former board chair called a "heavy workload." The CEO and COO will now share responsibilities. (Remai Modern )

A separate email Verity sent to museum staff earlier this year further fleshed out the new leadership structure.

"The COO will have key accountabilities for supporting directors in areas of human resources and finance, as well as facilities and other operational matters involving the City of Saskatoon," Verity wrote.

"The CEO will focus on supporting curatorial and programming initiatives, strategy implementation, development and stakeholder relations."

"Lynn is uniquely qualified to lead Remai Modern through this transition phase," new board chair Beau Atkins said in the museum's press release. "She has experience navigating organizations through big changes and has a wealth of fiscal, strategic, team building and business development knowledge specific to the museum sector."


Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Saskatoon

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