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Ron Radford

Ron Radford

Former director of National Gallery of Australian Dr Ron Radford was awarded an honorary doctorate. Photo: Michelle McAulay

Throughout a 43 year career at galleries around Australia, Ron Radford has overseen the acquisition of around 47,000 works of art and staged some 500 exhibitions including the most popular exhibition ever seen in Australia.

Born in Victoria, Dr Radford was educated at Scotch College in Melbourne before attending both Melbourne University and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Beginning his career in the Art world as an education officer at the National Gallery Victoria, Dr Radford became the Director of the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery only two years later.

After seven years in Ballarat, Dr Radford moved to Adelaide to become the Curator of European and Australian paintings and sculpture at the Art Gallery of South Australia, before becoming the Director of the Gallery in 1991.

During his time at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Dr Radford built up the collection of Australian Art, particularly from the colonial period, developed a strong collection of Asian art and expanded the Renaissance collection.
In 2004 Dr Radford was appointed Director of the National Gallery of Australia, a position he fulfilled until retiring in September this year. As the gallery's fourth director, Dr Radford oversaw the construction of a new entrance to the gallery, and an entire new wing devoted to indigenous art.
He was also responsible for the expansion of the gallery's collection of Asian art and artefacts, as well as recommencing the institution's blockbuster exhibitions, including the most successful exhibition ever seen in Australia – 2011's Masterpieces from Paris.

In addition to his roles with galleries, Dr Radford has also served on many arts related boards and committees, including being a foundation member of the National Portrait Gallery, a member of the Australian International Cultural Council, a member of the Board of Art Exhibitions Australia, and National Collections Advisory Board Forum. Dr Radford is also a trustee of the Gordon Darling Foundation, and was previously a trustee of the Bundanon Trust.

Dr Radford has also authored numerous books and exhibition catalogues and was appointed Australian Commissioner for the 1999 Venice Biennale.

Throughout his highly decorated career Dr Radford has received many awards for his services to the arts including becoming a Member of the Order of Australia in 2003, was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2001, and in 2009 was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of France) for his contributions to the arts. 

Academically, Dr Radford was awarded a Doctor of Letters from the University of Adelaide in 2003 as well as an Honorary Doctorate in 2007. Dr Radford has also been awarded a Churchill Fellowship, as well as fellowships to the Yale Centre for British Art and the Huntington Library in San Marino.

Dr Ron Radford was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the University of Canberra for service to arts administration, particularly as Director of the National Gallery of Australia and by initiating appreciation of Australian artists and their work within the community.