Carolyn Layden-Stevenson Distinguished Alumni Award 2015

Bernard Riordon, BA 70
Fredericton, NB

Bernard Riordon, BA’70, a native of Bathurst, NB, spent more than 40 years promoting and advancing the arts in Atlantic Canada. He was the founding director of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax, where he served for close to 30 years. He was then director and chief executive officer of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton for 11 years and is now serving as its director emeritus.

During his time at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Riordon established the gallery’s first permanent home in downtown Halifax. Under his leadership, the gallery expanded its permanent collection from 385 works to more than 8,500 and he established a branch gallery in Yarmouth.

Riordon arrived at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery just months before the start of a ten-year legal dispute over one of its collections with its founding benefactors, the Beaverbrook Foundation in Great Britain and the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation. During those difficult years, Riordon continued to guide the operations of the gallery making it the art gallery of New Brunswick, growing the Atlantic artist representation within the collection, and working closely with the board of governors as they addressed the lawsuit.

Riordon has authored books and magazine and journal articles including the editing of Bruno Bobak: The Full Palette, which won the award for Best Atlantic Published Book for 2006. In his role as director emeritus of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, he is leading a national fundraising campaign to expand the gallery, enhance its programing, and increase the gallery’s endowment.

He received the Order of Canada in 2002 for his work advancing the visual arts in Nova Scotia. He was awarded an honorary degree from St. Mary's University in 2009. The following year he received a lifetime achievement award from the Atlantic Provinces Art Galleries Association.