National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada


Annual Index
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The National Gallery of Canada
Bulletin and Annual Bulletin
A Brief History

by Jo Beglo

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Publishing History: Bulletin

In October 1963, Willem Blom, founding editor of the Bulletin, reported to the National Gallery Board of Trustees that "the first number has been extremely well received by museums, galleries, and the general public." Supporting statistics indicated that "to date, out of an edition of 3000 copies, more than 1000 orders have been received by the Queen's Printer and more than 700 copies have been sold out of hand." Blom was encouraged by the response, noting that "on receiving the Bulletin all the galleries and museums on the Library's exchange list expressed great
interest in it and made encouraging comments. Subscriptions have also been requested by institutions not on our regular exchange list." (10) An enthusiastic note to Blom from Sybille Pantazzi, Librarian at the Art Gallery of Toronto, summarizes this positive reception: "I have just received No. 3 of your splendiferous Bulletin. Quite seriously I think it is most attractive, contents, lay-out and all." (11)

The foreword to the first issue of the Bulletin announced that it would be an occasional publication. However, by the time the Board met in October 1963 a decision had been made to publish regularly, in the months of May and December each year. Over the years, the publication of some issues was delayed; nevertheless, the numbering of the Bulletin consistently reflected the semi-annual publishing plan.

Thirty issues which appeared between 1963 and 1977 are numbered consecutively, from 1 to 30, with two issues assigned to each year. In addition to the consecutive numbering, from 1963 to 1968 two issues per year were also assigned a volume and designated either number l or number 2, culminating with volume VI, number 2, 1968 (also consecutively numbered as issue 12). With number 13, 1969, the volume designations disappear, and the consecutive numbering continues. Issue number 30, 1977, was the last to appear in the semi-annual sequence. In 1977/78 the Bulletin became an annual publication, which continued for eight issues as the Annual Bulletin. The last Annual Bulletin was published in 1984/85.

The first eight issues of the semi-annual Bulletin, through 1966, were edited by Willem Blom, Research Curator. Blom's departure from Ottawa left the Bulletin without an editor for number 9-10, the double issue of 1967. In 1968 the editorial responsibilities were divided between Myron Laskin, Jr., who  succeeded Blom as Research Curator and served as general editor until 1983/84, and Jean-René Ostiguy, Curator of Canadian Art, who edited the Canadian Bulletins during the same period. Michael Pantazzi, Assistant Curator of European Art, joined forces with Laskin and Ostiguy to publish Annual Bulletin number 7 (1983/84), and served with Ostiguy as co-editor of the final issue, number 8 (1984/85).

Publishing History: Annual Bulletin

In 1977/78 the semi-annual Bulletin was superseded by the Annual Bulletin, which began renumbering with issue 1. The Annual Bulletin continued scholarly reporting focused on National Gallery of Canada collections; however, a number of changes occurred. The Annual Bulletin was published in a new, larger format. Thematic issues, alternating between Canadian and foreign subjects, were replaced by issues which combined articles on European art with those pertaining to Canadian art. And content was expanded to include material previously published in the Annual Review, such as essential information about the Gallery's activities and the list of acquisitions of works of art for the permanent collection.

The first number of the new Annual Bulletin incorporated the National Gallery's Annual Review for 1977/78. This practice continued through Annual Bulletin number 7 (1983/84), which was the last to incorporate the complete Annual Review (1983/84). The final number of the Annual Bulletin (number 8, 1984/85) included only the acquisition list for the fiscal year 1984/85 in its annual review section.

Annual Report and Annual Review

The earliest annual reports of the National Gallery, from 1884 until 1920, are recorded in the parliamentary sessional papers. In 1921, the National Gallery's first separately published Annual Report appeared, for the fiscal year 1920/21. Publication continued through to the fiscal year 1967/68, when the report ceased under the title Annual Report.

From 1968/69 until 1984/85 the Gallery's activities were reported in two separate documents, which originated from different sources: The Annual Report of the National Museums of Canada included a section on the National Gallery of Canada; in addition, the National Gallery published its own report, changing the title from Annual Report to Annual Review. The first Annual
Review of the National Gallery of Canada was published in 1968/69. It continued to appear as a separately published document until 1976/77. The following year, 1977/78, the Annual Review was incorporated into the Annual Bulletin, where it appeared until 1984/85.

With the demise of the Annual Bulletin in 1984/85, publication of the Annual Review was also suspended by the National Gallery. Reporting continued, however, in the National Museums of Canada Annual Report until 1988/89. In 1990/91 the National Gallery resumed publication of its own report, as a separate document under the title Annual Report, which continues to appear regularly.

These title changes directly correspond with changes in the National Gallery's administrative reporting structure. The National Gallery of Canada was founded in 1880, when the first exhibition of the Canadian Academy of Arts was opened in Ottawa by the Marquis of Lorne (1845-1914), then serving as Governor General. Each Academician, as a condition of election, was required to donate to the nation a work of art, known as a "diploma work." These  donations formed the nucleus of the Gallery's collections. (12)

From its founding in 1880, and continuing until 1913, the Gallery was a section of the Department of Public Works under the administration of the Dominion Chief Architect. In 1913, with the adoption of An Act to Incorporate the National Gallery of Canada, a Board of Trustees was appointed, and Eric Brown, who had been appointed Curator in 1910, was confirmed as the Gallery's first Director. (13)

The National Gallery continued with its own Board of Trustees until the formation of the National Museums Corporation by an act of Parliament in 1968. Under the National Museums Act, the Gallery was amalgamated into the National Museums of Canada, an administrative structure which prevailed until 1990, when a new Museums Act came into force. (14) On 1 July 1990, with proclamation of the new Museums Act, the National Gallery of Canada became a Crown corporation, again with its own Board of Trustees and the responsibility of publishing its own annual report.

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