Suicide of MO.CO curator Vincent Honoré a ‘work place accident’ [Updated]

Vincent Honoré
Vincent Honoré. Photo: Mary Ashton

The suicide of curator Vincent Honoré in November 2023 has now been deemed a ‘work place accident’ following a three month investigation by a French government agency. According to Le Quotidien de l’Art, via Art News, the findings by Caisse primaire d’assurances maladie open up the MO.CO Montpellier, the museum where Honoré was head of exhibitions at the time of his death, to potential criminal prosecution.

The CFDT union had initially requested an investigation by the museum itself. When this was rejected, Honoré’s family filed for a public investigation. Within the findings, messages between Honoré and a friend saying the curator felt ‘trapped’ by the institution were cited, as well as his belief he had been given a ‘hidden demotion’ a week before his death aged 48.

Honoré began his career as curator at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, where he worked between 2001–2004. He then moved to London to join Tate Modern in 2004, curating exhibitions with artists including Carol Bove, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Pierre Huyghe and Hans Haacke. In 2008, he became founding director and chief curator of DRAF (David Roberts Art Foundation) and went on to curate the 13th Baltic Triennial and the Kosovo Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale.

Arriving in Montpellier in 2019, alongside MO.CO founding director Nicolas Bourriaud, Honoré worked through a turbulent time in the institution’s history. Bourriaud was removed from his post in 2021 and replaced with Numa Hambursin, an event that was described as ‘trauma’ by one interviewee during the investigation.

Hambursin’s appointment has always been controversial. It was protested by the Montpellier’s art students and local professionals, having not met the board’s requirement of a two-thirds majority, getting 12 votes out of 19, and Hambursin was widely seen as a close friend of city mayor Michaël Delafosse.

Former colleagues say Honoré was not allowed to speak at the openings of shows he had curated, and gave the example of a dinner for the 2022 Museums in Exile exhibition, which was attended by former president of France, François Hollande, to which Honoré was disinvited.

10 June: In a lengthy statement unusually posted to the institution’s website, MO.CO says that media coverage of the government report is an ‘unbearable exploitation of a tragic event which deserves dignified, measured and respectful treatment for all.’

MO.CO say that when the union requested an investigation, it replied with the necessary paperwork but did not receive a response. The museum also rejects the claim that Honoré was undervalued saying his ‘positions and responsibilities have never been called into question.’ It goes on to detail Honoré’s pay rises and provides statistics as to how many exhibitions he curated under Hambursin’s tenure compared to that of Bourriaud. The museum notes for example, among the many citations, that in a catalogue published alongside an exhibition of artist Huma Bhabha, Honoré name is ‘mentioned 22 times, that of Numa Hambursin 11 times’.

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123, or email or In the US, you can call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 988, chat on, or text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis ­counsellor. Other international help­lines can be found at

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