About the Director
Jean-François Bélisle became Director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada on July 17, 2023.
He was previously the executive director and chief-curator of the Musée d’art de Joliette (MAJ), one of Canada’s most important regional museums with a permanent collection that spans 5 000 years of visual art history.
In addition to holding nationally and internationally acclaimed contemporary art exhibitions, the MAJ also creates innovative learning and community-based programmes. Under his leadership, the MAJ significantly expanded its presence, role, and profile in Canada and abroad, with particular attention to the inclusion of diversified cultural voices. At the core of his directorship is the objective of creating a welcoming forum, both physical and virtual, where art can contribute to the construction of tomorrow’s world through art-informed reflections and discussions open to all.
Before joining the MAJ, Bélisle had been the cofounder and executive director of Arsenal contemporary art, a private art foundation with venues in Montreal, Toronto and New York dedicated to helping contemporary Canadian artists reach a wider audience nationally and internationally. Prior to Arsenal, he was the executive director of the Association des galeries d’art contemporain (AGAC), a not-for-profit organization that represents leading commercial Canadian art galleries and that is active in expanding the Canadian art market. During his tenure, he developed various national initiatives such as Papier (now Plural), Canada’s second largest art fair. Prior to directing AGAC, he held various positions in museums, art publications, international NGOs, auction houses, galleries and universities in eight countries. He has organized over a hundred highly acclaimed art exhibitions and projects in Canada, the USA, Europe and China. He holds a BA and MA in art history from Concordia University.
Mr. Bélisle is vice-president of the Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization; Vice-president of the Lanaudière Tourism Board; Vice-president of the Collectif d’éditeurs d’art contemporain; Secretary of the Greater Joliette Chamber of Commerce; member of the scientific committee of the Fondation Grantham pour l’art et l’environnement and a past-president of the Momenta biennale. He also regularly participates in fine arts juries for provincial and national awards.
Mr. Bélisle lives in Ottawa with his wife Alexandra Hamel, their daughter, Clara, and their son, Adrien. He speaks English, French and Italian.