Vancouver Art Gallery to make largest cash donation ever to Canadian art museum for new building

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The Vancouver Art Gallery received the largest cash donation to an art museum in Canadian history. The $ 100 million Canadian ($ 80 million) Audain Foundation from collector Michael Audain will be used to build a new gallery on Vancouver’s downtown peninsula, on land that was once home to many Indigenous groups.

“The new gallery will create a contemporary, state-of-the-art platform that will allow us to truly reflect the depth and diversity of the Vancouver and Canadian art scene,” Anthony Kiendl, gallery director, told The Art Newspaper. “It will give the next generation of artists the opportunity to be seen and heard.”

Larwill Park, now one of Vancouver’s last unbuilt city blocks, is also part of the ancestral and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.

“The land we are on was traditionally occupied by these three nations,” Kiendl explains. “The three nations lived together without borders, so it was essential for us to ensure that there was representation of the three nations in the building design process. We need the building to reflect that the ground it is built on was an ancestral meeting point between them.

As a result, Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and Vancouver architects Perkins & Will embarked on an extended consultation process with Coast Salish artists who are representative of the three host nations.

Local Indigenous artists Debra Sparrow, Chepximiya Siyam ‘Janice George, Skwetsimeltxw Willard’ Buddy ‘Joseph and Angela George have been “engaged as art and design consultants” since March of this year, “Kiendl says.

The building itself will be created with wood and copper in the foreground, materials that “have cultural value in the material history of British Columbia,” the architects said in a statement, noting that the wood formed the foundations of the “traditional longhouses of the coast”. the Salish to the growth of the city at the beginning of the 20th century ”.

The presence of copper in the design is a direct result of the dialogue that the architects of Herzog & de Meuron had with native artists, they say.

“The copper objects were often intricately embossed, folded and colored, and convey a powerful message among many First Nations people in British Columbia,” say the architects.

Skwetsimeltxw artist Willard ‘Buddy’ Joseph says: “Rich outward expression is more than design; it represents spiritual energy and protection.

The proposed new building, located seven blocks east of the Gallery’s current home on West Georgia Street, will include more than 80,000 square feet of exhibition space, more than double the existing space. . The building is expected to create around 3,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs in the tourism sector, says the gallery.

“We are incorporating a new program into the installation, so that the new gallery will have studios and accommodation that can be used by guest artists,” Kiendl said. “It will be up to Canadian artists to develop and show their work at home first. “

The Audain Foundation donation follows a donation of C $ 40 million from the Chan Family Foundation and an initial investment of C $ 50 million from the province of British Columbia. In addition, C $ 50 million has been pledged to date by individual donors and foundations. The art gallery will now seek to raise an additional C $ 160 million from the private and public sectors.

The Vancouver Art Gallery at Chan Center for the Visual Arts, the official name of the new gallery, will be located between Cambie and Beatty streets, with a main entrance on Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver.


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