Séamus Kealy returns to Canada as Executive Director of Oakville Galleries
The award-winning gallery director and curator has returned to Canada after steering two leading contemporary arts institutions in Europe. Séamus Kealy is a dynamic museum and gallery director and curator with Canadian and international experience leading and transforming visual arts institutions.
“On behalf of the Oakville Galleries' Board of Directors, we are thrilled to welcome Séamus as the new Executive Director of Oakville Galleries. Séamus has a dynamic and engaging leadership style which will resonate with all of the organization's stakeholders", says Alix Scott, Oakville Galleries' Board Chair. “The Board looks forward to supporting Séamus as he begins the process of charting a compelling new vision for Oakville Galleries".
“It's great to be back in Canada again. The warm welcome in Oakville has been especially wonderful. Already I am in the thick of future planning and we have an exciting program coming up in May. The long term plans here are ambitious and the board and I have been in intense dialogue since day one."
Séamus brings many years of experience in leading and transforming public art institutions and working with diverse communities. From 2014 to 2023, Séamus was director of the Salzburger Kunstverein in Salzburg, one of central Europe's most innovative institutions for contemporary art. During his tenure, he greatly increased the activities, scale, budget, audience diversity and international profile of the Salzburger Kunstverein. He curated ten exhibitions annually, while working with some of the world's most influential artists, including Bani Abidi, Camille Henrot, Khalil Rabah, Megan Rooney, Omer Fast, Stan Douglas, Geoffrey Farmer & Gareth Moore, Adrian Paci, Rabih Mroué, Hans Schabus, Paloma Varga Weisz, and Nedko Solakov. His thematic exhibitions included Film as Muse, A Painter's Doubt, The People's Cinema, Excessive Beauty (Überschönheit) and Punctum, which was named the year's “Top Exhibition in Austria" by Austria's Profil magazine.
In 2017, Séamus founded Sunset Kino, Austria's first and only outdoor avant-garde cinema, and in 2019, he commissioned, produced and presented Omer Fast's film Der Oylem ist a Goylem as part of a multiple-installation exhibition.
From 2008 to 2013, he was director of The Model, Sligo, one of Ireland's most notable contemporary art centres, where he led a major redevelopment while presenting highly-acclaimed exhibitions by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Harun Farocki, Duncan Campbell, and Omer Fast, among many others. His leadership and fundraising abilities were instrumental to this major capital project during the most challenging period of Ireland's financial crisis.
His experience in Canada and with Canadian artists is also of note. He served as curator of the Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto from 2005 to 2008, where he established a vigorous and award-winning exhibition program, earning the 2007 Curatorial Writing Award from the Ontario Association of Art Galleries. In 2015, he played a key role in a major European touring survey exhibition of Canadian artist Stan Douglas' large-scale photographs and films, which included stops at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin and Salzburger Kunstverein, as well as several other museums. Kealy curated both shows at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin and Salzburger Kunstverein. Later in 2018, in one of his many professional jury roles, he was International Juror for Canada's prestigious Sobey Art Award.
His academic artistic education includes studying Fine Arts (BFA) with a focus on painting as well as photography with Jeff Wall, and later Art History: Curatorial Studies (MA), earning his two degrees at the University of British Columbia.
Earlier this month, the staff and board of Oakville Galleries welcomed Séamus Kealy to its team as Executive Director. Future plans will be announced in the coming months.