Pablo Picasso, La Misereuse accroupie (The Crouching Beggar). 1902. Oil on canvas. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Anonymous gift, 1963, 63/1 © Picasso Estate / SODRAC (2012)
By Nina Schroeder
The artworks gathered together in Winnipeg for 100 Masters: Only in Canada allow for a dramatic artistic celebration of Canada’s oldest civic art gallery and showcase the scope and breadth of the many fine works of art that are held in the permanent collections of galleries across the country. This exhibition brings together masterworks from thirty different galleries and museums. The following descriptions provide background information on the location and size of each of the galleries, as well as a glimpse into the unique histories of each of the institutions that have contributed to this celebration of the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s centennial year.
Agnes Etherington Art Centre
The Agnes Etherington Art Centre (AEAC) opened in 1957, but its story begins just over thirty years earlier with the founding of the Kingston Art and Music Club in 1926. Agnes Etherington was an important figure in the development of this club and was active in the arts scene of Kingston throughout her life. Etherington’s legacy to the city was the bequest of her beautiful home to Queen’s University for use as an art gallery. To this day, the AEAC is a university art centre with a mandate to serve the faculty, staff, and students of Queen’s University as well as the wider Kingston community.
With a collection that now includes over 15,000 objects, and a gallery building that has been expanded and renovated over the years, the AEAC is equipped to offer approximately fifteen exhibitions each year. The gallery also has the capacity to offer an assortment of arts education programs. Its collection is diverse, ranging from Canadian historical and contemporary art; to European paintings, prints, and drawings; to the Justin and Elisabeth Lang Collection of West African Art. The AEAC’s Bader Collection features many fine early Dutch and northern European works.
Art Gallery of Alberta
Since its founding in 1924, the Art Gallery of Alberta’s (AGA) collection and its exhibitions have drawn upon both national and international artists, but the gallery has always placed a special focus on presenting contemporary and historical artwork from Alberta. The AGA now has a collection of over 6,000 objects. Talks, tours, and family programming as well as school programming and studio classes are offered in order to engage visitors of all ages.
The AGA, located at the heart of Edmonton’s Arts District, is the oldest cultural institution in the province. In 2010 the gallery moved into a new and improved building; the space includes a dramatic 190-metre steel ribbon which is reminiscent of the winding shapes of the North Saskatchewan River and the northern lights. The new building offers three floors of exhibition space in which to display the collection and present visitors with a first-hand experience of Alberta’s visual heritage.
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia
With a collection of 17,000 works, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) is the largest public art collection in British Columbia. The AGGV has particular strengths in its historical and contemporary Canadian collection, and boasts a strong collection of work by artists with B.C. connections. This includes a collection of works by Emily Carr, which are always on display. Also of note is the gallery’s Asian collection, one of the most important collections of its kind in Canada.
The AGGV opened in 1951 after Miss Sarah Spencer donated the historic Spencer Mansion as a home for the gallery. The mansion, built in 1889, is a lovely space that offers a dramatic view of the ocean. It is now repainted in vibrant colours authentic to the building’s original Queen Anne style. The AGGV has expanded to include seven modern galleries built beside the original Spencer Mansion. These gallery spaces were added between 1955 and 1978, and additional renovations were undertaken in 2008 to make the space a state-of-the-art exhibition venue.
Art Gallery of Hamilton
Originally founded in 1914, the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) is now Ontario’s third largest public art gallery. With a wide-ranging permanent collection of 9,500 works, the collection features historical European, Canadian and contemporary art.
An international love story is part of the AGH’s history. The marriage of the Hamilton-born artist William Blair Bruce to Caroline Benedicks, a Swedish sculptor from a wealthy family, sparked the creation of both the AGH, and Sweden’s Brucebo Fine Art Scholarship for young Canadian artists. William and Caroline met when they were both living in France. When William died in 1906, his father and Caroline decided to offer the City of Hamilton twenty-nine of William’s paintings. At the time, Hamilton did not have a municipal gallery; therefore, the Blair Bruce Collection in many ways provided the impetus for the creation of such a space. First occupying the second floor and attic of the vacated Public Library Building, the AGH opened eight years after the city had been offered the art collection. In 1953 the AGH moved into a new gallery building, which was opened by then-Governor General of Canada Vincent Massey. Further building upgrades took place from 2003 to 2005. These changes, with the incorporation of an exterior design featuring golden steel and glass, provided a dramatic new appearance to the AGH.
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Halifax and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) is the largest art gallery in Atlantic Canada. With a total of 15,000 objects, the gallery’s collection is focused on works by Nova Scotia artists and works dealing with themes of Nova Scotia’s history. The gallery’s collection also includes many works by artists from the Atlantic provinces more broadly, works from other regions of Canada, and a selection of international works.
Originally called the Nova Scotia Museum of Fine Arts and renamed in 1975, the gallery was initially created to display a collection of 200 artworks belonging to the province. As its collection grew, it became necessary to look for a larger gallery space. In 1988 the AGNS opened in the Dominion Building, located in downtown Halifax, and later expanded further to include two floors of the Provincial Building next door. 2006 marked the opening of a satellite branch of the gallery in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. With this unique gallery set-up, the AGNS continues to meet its goal of making its collection increasingly accessible to the people of the province.
Art Gallery of Ontario
Holding more than 80,000 works, the AGO is an important Canadian collection and one of the largest galleries in North America. The AGO, which began as the Art Museum of Toronto and was founded by a group of private citizens in 1900, has grown into a national treasure with representation from 100 AD to the present.
The gallery’s collection of Canadian art contains works by artists throughout Canada’s history, and includes works from artists nationwide, although it does have a particular focus on artists from Toronto and Ontario. The AGO holds important works from the seventeenth-century Dutch and Italian schools, and from the French Salon and the Impressionist period of the 1800s. Contemporary art is represented by holdings of American and European art since 1900 and Canadian art since 1985. Other collections include historical and contemporary photography, and prints and drawings. In addition, the gallery has an impressive collection of African and Oceanic art, and the world’s largest public collection of sculpture by Henry Moore.
Art Gallery of Windsor
Located immediately next to the Canadian-American border, the Art Gallery of Windsor’s mandate is to exhibit Canada’s artistic heritage. The gallery has a collection of over 4,000 objects, consisting exclusively of Canadian works. Holdings range from pre-confederation to contemporary Canadian art. The gallery also provides a variety of public programs for visitors of all ages.
The story of the Art Gallery of Windsor (AGW) began in 1943 when an art gallery was established at the Willstead Manor. This building was intended to be a space where travelling art exhibitions from other galleries could be held. A year later, the gallery was incorporated and soon began to acquire and develop its own collection of art. The AGW moved to a renovated brewery warehouse along the Windsor riverfront in 1975. After moving from the downtown riverfront location to a space in the Devonshire Mall in the early 1990s, the AGW moved back to the riverside location in 2001. The building was, by then, renovated and expanded in a dramatic Modernist style.
Beaverbrook Art Gallery
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Lord Beaverbrook, who grew up in New Brunswick, established the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in 1959 as a gift to the province. Now New Brunswick’s provincial art gallery, it features works by Canadian and British artists. Lord Beaverbrook’s original collection is located in the Sir Max Aitken Gallery, an addition to the building that holds the British collection of seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century artwork. The gallery is widely respected for its British collection which ranges from the Elizabethan art to contemporary art; these holdings include important works by Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, J.M.W. Turner, and John Constable.
The gallery’s impressive collection also includes work by many pivotal Canadian artists from pre-confederation to the present. The Beaverbrook places particular emphasis on collecting work by artists from New Brunswick and the Atlantic provinces. Accordingly, the Marion McCain Atlantic Gallery, established in 1995, features artworks by artists such as Mary Pratt, Christopher Pratt, Tom Forrestall, and Alex Colville. Other gallery highlights include examples of Aubusson and Gobelin tapestries, a collection of Renaissance works, and the Hosmer Pillow Vaughan Gallery, with its display of Continental fine and decorative art.
Canadian War Museum
The Canadian War Museum presents Canada’s military history in a way that endeavours to accurately acknowledge the complicated emotional and tragic aspects of war and human conflict. The permanent displays reflect four themes: geography, politics, brutality, and survival. The museum’s vast collection includes 500,000 artifacts. With 13,000 art objects, the museum possesses a significant collection of artworks by Canada’s war artists, such as Lawren P. Harris, Charles Comfort, and Alex Colville (the museum has 400 of his paintings and sketches).
The museum traces its origins back to a collection of military artifacts from the 1880s. In 1966, the Canadian War Museum moved from its location in the Victoria Memorial Museum Building to a location on Sussex Avenue. The current museum building opened in 2005, and it features a design of concrete, steel, and wood. The low-lying design of the structure is simultaneously intended to convey a sense of the damage that war wreaks on people and land, and emphasize the ability of nature to regenerate in locations of past human violence. Visitors can read “Lest We Forget” in Morse code on the north point, and CWM , the museum’s initials, on the south. A Memorial Hall in the museum contains the headstone of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. The building was carefully constructed so that at 11:00 a.m. on Remembrance Day, sunlight shines on this headstone.
Confederation Centre of the Arts
The Confederation Centre of the Arts is dedicated to the artistic celebration of Canadian identity and the vision of Canada that was initially laid out by the Fathers of Confederation. The centre has an extensive Robert Harris research collection, which is one of the highlights of its holdings. This specialization is complimented by many other historical and contemporary Canadian works to make up a collection of over 16,500 objects.
The centre was founded in 1964 as a memorial to the Fathers of Confederation. They had gathered in the city exactly 100 years earlier for the first of three conferences that would lead the provinces of Canada toward Confederation in 1867. The entire complex includes theatre space as well as the art gallery, making the art centre a key venue for both performing and visual arts. The establishment of the Confederation Centre of the Arts was a remarkable occasion in that it was the first time that several provinces agreed to contribute money for the construction of a public institution in a different province.
The Glenbow Museum is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of Western Canada. Made up of a museum, art gallery, library, and archives, the Glenbow has over a million objects, 28,000 of which are artworks. The collection’s emphasis on Western Canada began with Eric Lafferty Harvie, who started collecting art at age 55 after making his fortune when oil was discovered on his land. In his lifetime, Harvie amassed a large collection of artwork with ties to the history of Western Canada. This collection emphasis was supplemented by other diverse objects from around the world. Harvie established the Glenbow Foundation in 1954, and donated his extensive collection in 1966.
Today, the gallery maintains an emphasis on Western Canadian art, featuring work from the nineteenth century to the present. The collection offers a rich variety of artwork ranging from paintings by railway artists to abstract art. The museum archives are a valuable resource as they feature many unpublished letters and documents relating to the history of Western Canada. The museum also has strong research collections on individual artists. One such collection features works by Henry George Glyde, who was an important figure in Alberta as both a practicing artist and an art teacher. The Glenbow has a collection of 820 of Glyde’s artworks, 573 of which were donated by Glyde himself in 1987.
MacKenzie Art Gallery
The MacKenzie Art Gallery first opened in 1953 as a university gallery at the Regina campus of the University of Saskatchewan, which is now the University of Regina. In 1990 the MacKenzie became a public art gallery. Norman MacKenzie, a lawyer from Regina who is recognized as one of the first serious art collectors in Saskatchewan, bequeathed his collection of artwork to the University of Saskatchewan in 1936. MacKenzie’s donation, which established the foundation of the gallery’s current collection, included a wide variety of works ranging from contemporary art, to Renaissance art, to antiques from the Middle East and Asia. This collection was all found and purchased by MacKenzie after 1912, since his original collection was almost completely destroyed when a tornado struck the city of Regina that year.
The MacKenzie Art Gallery’s current mandate is to continue to gather works that will be meaningful and relevant to the people of Saskatchewan. The collection today is made up of over 4,000 artworks with emphasis on Canadian historical and contemporary works, as well as nineteenth- and twentieth-century European drawings and prints. The MacKenzie has also begun collected a variety of works by contemporary First Nations artists, and has established collecting interests in the areas of folk art and photography.
The McCord Museum
The McCord Museum is a public research and teaching museum that now has a collection of over 1,440,000 art objects, images, and manuscripts. Founded in 1921, the museum has its roots in lawyer David Ross McCord’s desire to establish a museum where the cultural and social history of his city of Montreal could be made accessible to everyone. The museum collection, which has grown over the years, is built upon the McCord family collection, and the many significant Canadian works that David Ross McCord added to this collection during his travels across the country. The McCord Museum has found two previous homes in former residences of respected Montreal citizens. As of 1971, the museum has been housed in the former Student Union Building on the campus of McGill University.
Along with a substantial collection of paintings, prints and drawings, the gallery also has a variety of other collection highlights, including one of Canada’s foremost collections of costume and textiles, a collection of historical First Nations artefacts, and a collection of decorative arts. The Notman Photographic Archives, and the museum’s textual archives are also valuable and widely used resources.
McMaster Museum of Art
McMaster University has been collecting art since its foundation in 1887. Artworks were acquired and displayed in offices and other locations around the university. The collection continued to grow, and was increasingly drawn upon for formal art programming and educational purposes. A gallery space for this collection was officially opened in 1967 and overseen by the Department of Art and Art History. Plans for constructing an official gallery building to house the McMaster collection began in 1988, at which point the art gallery became its own distinct entity within the university.
The McMaster Art Gallery opened in 1994 and it now has a permanent collection of 6,000 works. The collection includes many fine historical and contemporary European and Canadian paintings; other particular collection highlights include the gallery’s early twentieth-century German prints, and a collection of Cape Dorset prints and sculptures. The gallery has relied upon many generous private donations to build up its collection. In the 1980s, Dr. Herman Herzog Levy donated over 185 European and American works to the art collection, making him one of the museum’s particularly significant donors. The Levy Bequest of 1990 has allowed for expansion of the Levy Collection through the ongoing acquisition of works.
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
What began as a private collection in a rustic setting has become a distinctly Canadian gallery with a permanent collection of 6,000 artworks. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection offers a unique gallery context in which visitors can look at iconic Canadian art—works by the Group of Seven as well as by First Nations, Inuit, and contemporary artists—while surrounded by the natural landscape that inspired much of the artwork on display. Robert and Signe McMichael started collecting works by Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven, and their followers in 1955. The McMichael’s collection grew substantially as they continued to buy works and accept donations. By 1965 the McMichael’s owned 194 artworks, and they decided to offer their art collection, and their beautiful property in Kleinburg, to the province of Ontario for use as a museum.
Originally called the McMichael Conservation Collection of Art when it officially opened in 1966, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection has continued to grow. The gallery is now much larger than the original house, comprising thirteen exhibition galleries altogether. While the building has been renovated and enlarged, care has been taken to maintain a sense of the original rural style, and the gallery is designed with large windows to allow for a good view of the Humber River Valley.
Mendel Art Gallery
The Mendel Art Gallery was established in 1964 by Frederick Salomon Mendel. Facing the threat of increasing Nazi persecution, the Mendel family immigrated to Canada from Europe. Once settled in Saskatoon, Frederick Mendel established Intercontinental Packers Limited, which became a highly successful business. In the early 1960s, Mendel’s donation, matched by the Province of Saskatchewan, allowed for the construction of the Mendel Art Gallery’s original home, one of Saskatchewan’s most notable Modernist buildings.
In 1965 Mendel donated thirteen paintings, including several works by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. This became the foundation for the Mendel Art Gallery’s permanent collection. The collection which has now grown to include more than 5,700 works is one of the largest public art collections in Saskatchewan. Today, the collection focuses on work by Canadian artists, and places an increasing emphasis on work by artists from Saskatchewan. The gallery is in the exciting process of developing a new downtown gallery space. Set to open in 2014, the Mendel Art Gallery will be renamed the Art Gallery of Saskatchewan.
Minneapolis Institute of Art
The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) opened in its current Neoclassical building in 1915. However, the gallery’s story begins in 1883 with the founding of the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts. Since then, the MIA’s collection has grown from 800 works to over 83,000, and the building has been expanded twice: first in 1974 and again in 2006. The MIA offers free general admission and seeks to provide meaningful arts interpretation education to the half-million people who visit each year.
The MIA’s painting collection is known for its many masterworks dating from the fourteenth century to the present. Possessing nearly 900 European and American works, the collection provides examples of each of the pivotal artistic schools while also focusing on the work and development of particular artists. Other collection areas include prints and drawings, textiles and sculpture, arts of Africa and the Americas, Asian art, contemporary art, decorative arts, photography, and new media. The collections are diverse, span 5,000 years, and include artworks from around the world.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Making artwork accessible to everyone is a priority of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts/ Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal (MMFA). To facilitate this goal, the MMFA offers free admission to its permanent collections, which include 36,000 objects. The museum’s main collection areas are European, Canadian, Inuit and First Nations, world cultures, contemporary, and decorative art. In addition to creating exhibits that tour nationally and internationally, the MMFA also creates temporary exhibits that cross disciplinary boundaries.
The forerunner of the MMFA was the Art Association of Montreal (AAM), founded in 1860 by a group of Montreal art lovers and collectors. The AAM expanded in 1877 when Benaiah Gibb bequeathed to the association a parcel of land on Sherbrooke Street, donated paintings and sculptures, and contributed money towards the construction of a museum building. The AAM moved to the new Sherbrooke street location in 1912. The gallery officially became the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1939. The MMFA has expanded several times over the years, adding new pavilions dedicated to particular collections and even building an underground gallery space linking the buildings on either side of Sherbrooke Street. The Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion of Quebec and Canadian Art opened in 2011, and that same year the MMFA expanded its sculpture garden and surrounding public spaces. Another gallery space dedicated to Old Masters is in the planning stages. The anticipated opening date for this new pavilion is 2017.
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal was founded in 1964 by the government of Quebec. Its mandate is to collect, preserve, and display the work of contemporary artists, particularly those from Montreal and the province of Quebec. The gallery collection is made up of 7,600 works by more than 1,500 artists. Among many collection highlights, it is notable that the musée currently possesses the largest existing collection of art by Paul-Émile Borduas.
The Contemporary Art Society, founded by John Lyman in 1939, is seen as a forerunner to the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Thus, the musée’s emphasis on local contemporary art stems back all the way to the society’s focus on collecting art by contemporary Montreal artists. The musée was first housed temporarily at Place Ville-Marie, and then at Château Dufresne from 1965 to 1968; it then moved to the Expo 67 Gallery of International Art at Cité du Havre. Today, the musée is located in the Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles and is an important part of Montreal’s vibrant arts community.
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
Quebec City, Quebec
The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec has more than 37,000 works dating from the seventeenth century to the present, and it has the world’s largest collection of Quebec art, representing more than 4,000 artists. The collection includes works by French-Canadian artists from the pre-confederation period, such as Joseph Légaré, Antoine Plamondon, and Théophile Hamel, all the way through to more contemporary French-Canadian work by artists such as Jean Paul Lemieux.
The musée is located in what was formerly the Quebec City prison, opened in 1867. The building originally housed 138 cells, and today the cells from Block 6 and Block 11 have been left as a reminder of the building’s colourful history. The converted prison has four galleries, and what used to be the watchtower now displays a dramatic architectural art piece created by David Moore in 1991. The original museum building was constructed 100 metres from the prison. In 1970 the prison was abandoned and subsequently turned into a short-lived youth hostel. By the 1980s the gallery needed more space and the prison building provided a good option. The building was significantly renovated between 1989 and 1991 in order to create a unique venue for art appreciation. Offering free admission to the permanent collections, the Musée now stands as a modern gallery space within which the visual history of art and artists in Quebec can be presented and preserved for all.
Museum London has more than 5,000 regional and Canadian artworks as well as 2,500 artifacts related to the history of the City of London. Through its collection, Museum London seeks to preserve the stories of local and Canadian history. Established in 1940, the museum was first housed in the London Public Library. Plans for the museum’s current location in downtown London began to take shape in the 1980s. Museum London is the product of the amalgamation of the London Regional Art Gallery, the London Historical Museum, and the Eldon House and Gardens.
The museum’s holdings includes a historical art collection, a contemporary collection of painting and photography, and collections of mixed media and sculptural works. The historical collection includes works by itinerant artists who travelled through the London area well before Confederation; works by artists who worked in the newly established town of London; works from the later nineteenth century by such acclaimed artists as Paul Peel; and, many works by artists from the twentieth century. The collection of contemporary art, like the historical collection, has a strong representation of work by artists connected to the London region; this includes artists such as Jack Chambers and Greg Curnoe.
National Gallery of Canada
At the first meeting of the Canadian Academy of Arts the Governor General John Douglas Sutherland Campbell (Marquis of Lorne) championed the need for a national gallery of Canada. Founded in 1880, the national collection began with diploma works submitted to the Academy by newly elected members. First among the works in the collection were 15 donated and purchased oil paintings by the Canadian artists such as William Brymner, Robert Harris, and Paul Peel. In 1911 the gallery moved into the Victoria Memorial Museum, which already housed the National Museum, a precursor to the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The gallery moved to the Lorne Building on Elgin Street in 1959, and then moved to its current building in 1988.
From its beginning the gallery has maintained a commitment to supporting contemporary Canadian artists through purchase of their works. Therefore the gallery has a strong collection of Canadian art from every period. The gallery also boasts collections of historical and contemporary international artwork, including the famously controversial Voice of Fire by Barnett Newman. Other collection areas include Asian art, silver, sculptural work, and prints and drawings. Visitors can also enjoy the gallery’s architecturally unique indoor courtyard and the beautifully persevered neo-Gothic Rideau Chapel, which was reconstructed inside the gallery in the 1970s. Today, the National Gallery of Canada has 36,000 works of art as well as 125,000 images within the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. The National Gallery is located directly across the river from Canada’s Parliament Building, which is mirrored in the gallery’s dramatic structure of granite and glass.
Royal BC Museum
Victoria, British Columbia
The Royal BC Museum showcases natural history and human history, including artwork, as it seeks to preserve and present the many stories that make up British Columbia’s history. The Royal BC Museum collection includes over seven million objects and continues to grow. The human history collections include an ethnology collection, an archeological collection, audio visual resources, and a collection objects, textiles, and furniture which demonstrates BC’s more recent material history. The natural history collections cover a wide variety of animal and plant groups. Thunderbird Park–offering a display of totem poles–is another collection highlight. In addition to the artefacts and art objects, the archives at the museum are a valuable resource to researchers and genealogists.
What is now the joint provincial museum and archives of BC began as a much smaller museum in 1886. The entire collection was initially located in one room attached to the Provincial Secretary’s office in the Capital Buildings; the space was nicknamed “the Bird Cages.” After a brief stay in the former Supreme Court building, the museum moved into the east wing of the newly built Legislative Buildings in 1898. Then, in 1968 the museum moved into its current building, established as a Canadian centennial project. A variety of the province’s cultural institutions came together in 2003 to form the Royal BC Museum Corporation.
Royal Ontario Museum
The ROM collection, which includes over six million objects from pre-historic times to the present, covers two broad areas: world cultures and natural history. The museum possesses an excellent collection of Canadian artifacts; other highlights include its collection of Asian and Near East artifacts, its Greek and Roman collection, its Byzantine collection, and its textile and costume collection. The museum also has an extensive collection of European decorative arts, which is one of the most comprehensive in Canada. The natural history collection includes everything from rocks, fungi, gems, meteorites, minerals, and fossils, to displays on amphibians, insects, mammals and dinosaurs. Research is an important aspect of the museum’s life; study goes on around the world and in the ROM laboratories in order to provide the foundations for the museum’s programming.
The ROM, located in a four-storey Neo-Romanesque building, was opened in 1914. There have been two major building expansions since that time, the first in 1933, the second in 1982. Renaissance ROM, a project that began in 2002, was a means to continue the ROM’s growth. The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, an 2007 addition that serves as the dramatic new entrance area to the building, was part of this project. Funds raised by the Renaissance ROM project also allowed for an expansion and renovation of educational facilities and of gallery space.
The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery
St. John’s, Newfoundland
The Rooms is dedicated to sharing and preserving the stories of Newfoundland and Labrador. Bringing together an art gallery, museum, and archives, The Rooms is the largest public cultural space in the province. The art in the gallery, the architecture of the building, and the historic location of The Rooms all have ties to the heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador. The gallery features art by Atlantic artists, including Mary Pratt, Christopher Pratt, and David Blackwood. This provincial gallery traces its history back to the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador, which became a part The Rooms Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2004.
The large-scale and unique architectural style of The Rooms is a dramatic feature of St. John’s. The building’s design is meant to resemble, in massive proportions, the fishing rooms where fishermen would store their nets and equipment, and where they would bring their fish at the end of a long day on the water. The Rooms is also culturally significant by virtue of its location on a historic Newfoundland site; the area where the gallery now stands is the former site of Fort Townshend, a citadel that was one of the largest British fortifications in North America during the eighteenth century.
Museum of Anthropology
The Museum of Anthropology located at the University of British Columbia is now Canada’s largest teaching museum. It is known nationally and internationally for its collections, research, and programming. The museum provides a place for students, staff, researchers, and others to learn about a wide range of indigenous cultures and arts from Canada and around the world. The MOA, founded in 1949, was first located in the basement of the university’s main library. It is now located in a decidedly more dramatic location, offering a view of the cliffs of Point Grey and the Pacific Ocean. The current museum building opened in 1976.
One of the many highlights at the MOA is the Bill Reid Rotunda, in which Reid’s monumental sculpture, The Raven and the First Men, is on display. The MOA is built on traditional First Nations land. Accordingly, First Nations heritage is evident both within the building and on the museum grounds: the area surrounding the building features local plants as well as Haida houses and totem poles. The museum building itself is inspired by traditional Northwest Coast post and beam structures. Over 38,000 ethnographic objects and 535,000 archaeological objects are in the MOA collection.
University of Lethbridge Art Gallery
Established in 1967, the University of Lethbridge was further expanded in 1996 when it opened additional campuses in Edmonton and Calgary. The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery is located on the original campus where it is a visible part of university life. The main art gallery can be found in the university’s Centre for the Arts, and the Helen Christou Gallery can be found near the university’s library. A place for art appreciation and research, the gallery is meant to serve university students and faculty as well as the city’s general public. The gallery’s Culture Vulture Saturdays offer an opportunity for visitors to be involved in a variety of free art-making activities.
The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery’s collection of 13,000 objects includes drawings, prints, paintings, photographs, sculptural work, and installation art from Canada, the United States, and Europe. The Papokan Sculpture Park, which includes a variety of artworks around the campus, is a distinctive way that art is incorporated into daily life at the university. The collection has a range of nineteenth- and twentieth-century works, and its collection of twenty-first century pieces is growing. A new building to house larger works from the collection was completed in 1999; subsequent renovations were done in 2000 and 2003, which allowed for an improved area for study and research.
University of Toronto Art Centre
The University of Toronto Art Centre (UTAC) is located in University College at the University of Toronto’s St. George Campus. In addition to displaying the collection in the UTAC’s formal gallery setting located in Toronto’s museum district, over 1,000 artworks belonging to UTAC are installed in buildings around the university as a part of the Art on Campus Program.
UTAC opened in 1996 as a place to house the University of Toronto’s three permanent collections: the University of Toronto Art Collection, the University College Art Collection, and the Malcove Collection. The University of Toronto Art Collection is a diverse collection of 4,800 works. The University College Art Collection consists of over 500 artworks that include a significant collection of paintings by the Group of Seven. The Malcove Collection holds over 500 objects ranging from ancient art, to Byzantine icons, to works by Pablo Picasso. Lucas Cranach’s Adam and Eve is considered to be among the most significant works in this collection. The Malcove Collection was bequeathed to the university in the early 1980s by Dr. Lillian Malcove, a psychoanalyst and art collector from New York.
Vancouver Art Gallery
Vancouver, British Columbia
The Vancouver Art Gallery first opened in 1931. Initially, the gallery’s collection featured British historical painting, and only included seven works by Canadian artists, but this quickly began to change. In 1951 the gallery space was tripled in size to make room for the Emily Carr Trust Collection, which had been willed by the artist to the province of B.C. The Vancouver Art Gallery now possesses the world’s largest collection of works by Emily Carr, including 146 paintings along with many other sketches, drawings, and artifacts.
Today, with over 10,000 artworks from Canada and around the world, the Vancouver Art Gallery places special emphasis on modern and contemporary art from British Columbia. Contemporary photography is also a collection focus: the gallery began collecting photography quite seriously in 2002 and now has one of the most significant photography collections in North America. Other gallery highlights include works by members of the Group of Seven as well as pieces by important artists from Quebec. The gallery also has a European collection, including many seventeenth-century Dutch paintings. The gallery moved to its current location at the former provincial courthouse building in 1983, and the gallery is making plans to build and move into a new facility that will be twice the size of the current gallery.
Walker Art Center
The Walker Art Center promotes contemporary visual and performing arts through presentations of art, dance, music, and film works. With a collection of over 11,000 works, and facilities that include a gallery, theatre, and cinema, the Walker Art Center is an exemplary multidisciplinary arts space. Located next to the impressive Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (which opened in 1988), the Walker Art Center is one of the five most popular contemporary art museums in the United States.
In 1879 the lumber baron Thomas Barlow Walker built an extension onto his house in which he put twenty of his favourite paintings on display. By 1927 the collection had grown substantially: the Walker Art Center was officially established in its current location on the outskirts of downtown Minneapolis, becoming the first public art gallery in the region. The building has been expanded and renovated several times, most recently in 2005; it is now double its original size and continues to be an architecturally fascinating space. In the 1940s Mrs. Gilbert Walker made a donation that allowed for the purchase of works by important modern artists of the time. Since then, the Walker Art Center has continued to make the support of emerging contemporary artists a priority. The gallery has also recently begun to collect artworks which cross genres and traditional disciplinary boundaries.
Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) came into being 100 years ago as a small gallery in two rented rooms of Winnipeg’s Federal Building. Since this modest beginning in 1912, the Winnipeg Art Gallery has grown to be the most significant art museum in Manitoba and the sixth largest art museum in Canada. The WAG has moved several times to accommodate growth. In 1971 the WAG relocated from what is now the Manitoba Archives Building to its current home. Located a short distance from the Manitoba Legislative Building, the dramatic triangular Modernist structure built of Manitoba Tyndall stone is an important architectural feature of the province. The WAG now includes eight gallery spaces, a rooftop sculpture garden, a research library, a restaurant, a gift shop, meeting spaces, and Ferdinand Eckhardt Hall, a large auditorium named after past Executive Director Dr. Eckhardt. The WAG studio building was opened next door to the gallery in 1995; it plays an instrumental role in inspiring art appreciation and knowledge by providing art classes for children and adults of all skill levels.
The WAG currently has a collection of around 25,000 works of art, ranging from fifteenth-century European painting to contemporary artwork. The collection includes historical and contemporary art from Canada and abroad. Holdings also include collections of decorative works, photography, and the world’s largest collection of Inuit art, which includes nearly 11,000 works. A lasting legacy of the WAG’s centennial will be the construction of the Inuit Art and Learning Centre; construction is slated to begin in 2014.
After one-hundred years of engaging the Winnipeg community through the visual arts, the WAG continues to grow and offer opportunities for people to be inspired by excellent art. With many exciting exhibitions to mark the occasion of the WAG’s centennial, this year is at once a time to recognize the visionary work that has made the gallery what it is today, and a time to look toward the future, and the many exciting new plans, exhibitions, and programs that upcoming years will bring.