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Art Gallery boss to leave after six years

The Art Gallery of South Australia will begin an international search for a new director after Rhana Devenport’s contract has come to an end.

Mar 22, 2024, updated Mar 22, 2024
Rhana Devenport was the first woman to lead AGSA. She's pictured here with Robert Wilson's video portrait, 'Lady Gaga: Mademoiselle Caroline Riviere', 2013, and Tempe Manning's 1939 self-portrait. Supplied photo: Saul Steed

Rhana Devenport was the first woman to lead AGSA. She's pictured here with Robert Wilson's video portrait, 'Lady Gaga: Mademoiselle Caroline Riviere', 2013, and Tempe Manning's 1939 self-portrait. Supplied photo: Saul Steed

Devenport said her tenure would end at AGSA on July 7, after six years in charge of the key South Australian institution.

Her career plans weren’t specified, although she will leave Adelaide for Sydney where she “looks forward to embarking on a series of new international and national projects”.

The gallery said it would soon begin a national and international search for a new director.

Devenport became the first woman director of AGSA when she replaced Nick Mitzevich in 2018, who had left Adelaide to become director of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

Her tenure, which spanned the difficult pandemic years, included landmark exhibitions – notably Clarice Beckett: The Present Moment – and the growth of the Tarnanthi Festival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art.

“It has been an honour and privilege to have led AGSA for the past six years through many successes and some significant challenges, managing a much-loved and deeply respected cultural and tourism destination,” Devenport said.

The gallery noted that four million people had visited its North Terrace home since Devenport was appointed director, with AGSA becoming a sanctuary for visitors during the pandemic, making the top 100 most visited galleries in the world.

AGSA said highlights of Devenport’s tenure included “strategic expansion” of the collection, the 2023 exhibition Frida & Diego: Love & Revolution becoming its most successful ticketed exhibition in decades, the critically acclaimed Clarice Beckett exhibition, and Tarnanthi’s growth in audience and sales.

She said she was leaving AGSA in good shape.

“I will leave AGSA with a clear roadmap for the future of the 143-year-old Gallery through the new strategic plan and am deeply honoured to be part of its legacy and helping to shape its future. I wish the new leadership, and our dedicated, inspiring and passionate staff and volunteers, every success moving forwards. It has been an absolute privilege to work so closely with our inspiring donors and supporters of the Gallery.

“Personally, I am very much looking forward to the future and to an exciting next phase of my career, which will clearly benefit from my time at AGSA. I have loved living in Adelaide with all it offers and working closely with so many impressive creatives in a highly collaborative environment here in South Australia.”

Arts Minister Andrea Michaels thanked Devenport for her “exceptional leadership”.

AGSA chair Sandy Verschoor said Devenport had successfully steered the gallery through the challenges of the pandemic, “strategically growing the collection and delivering memorable exhibitions and programs”.

This an edited version of the story which originally said Devenport had resigned.

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