The Ottawa Citizen called it a “mysterious disappearance.”
Staffers at the National Gallery of Canada learned Wednesday that David Franklin, deputy director and chief curator, had left the museum “on leave.” No reasons for his sudden departure have been announced at this writing, but news reports hint at possible friction between Franklin and the museum’s director, Pierre Théberge.
When I contacted Joanne Charette, director of public affairs, asking specific questions about what happened and why, I received this response:
Dr. Franklin has not departed from the National Gallery of Canada. He is currently on leave. As you know, he is the curator of our major show next summer—Raphael. I hope this clears up things.
Not really. Charette and Théberge were not available for further comment when I called this morning. I will update this post if I learn more.
Regarding Franklin’s so-called “leave,” the Ottawa Citzen said this:
Some other employees, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they did not expect Mr. Franklin to return to the gallery.
Franklin was appointed to his deputy directorship in 2001, succeeding Colin Bailey, now associate director and chief curator at the Frick Collection, New York. Franklin had joined the museum in 1998 as prints and drawings curator.
CBC news reports:
Franklin’s exit throws two major exhibitions into turmoil. An internationally renowned expert on Italian Renaissance art, Franklin had been co-ordinating the gallery’s main summer exhibit for 2009 of Italian Renaissance and Baroque art. He was also the curator of the Caravaggio exhibit slated for 2011 or 2012.
He has been replaced, at least temporarily, by Mayo Graham, who is the National Gallery’s director of outreach and international relations.
UPDATE: Joanne Charette just returned my call, but the only thing she would say about the circumstances behind Franklin’s leave was, “The man has a right to his privacy….Eventually, there will be further explanation.” If he left for personal reasons, an official announcement to that effect would have been the most customary and appropriate way of handling an unusually abrupt departure of a high-ranking staffer. Charette says that Franklin still maintains an office at the museum and is writing the catalogue for next summer’s “Raphael to Caracci: The Art of Papal Rome.”