The Art Gallery of Alberta
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  Posted February 22nd, 2014 by Zdenko  in Edmonton | 8 comments

Edmonton attraction

By: Zdenko Kahlina

Happy Birthday, Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton)
 It’s been four years already. Rookie years indeed.  Edmonton downtown art gallery celebrates it’s fourth anniversary as core attraction. You brought in big-name headliners, who brought in the crowds. But, only a 12 months ago, nearly thirty people from Edmonton’s very active social media community attended the blogger sneak peek at the new Art Gallery of Alberta in downtown Edmonton. Armed with smart phones, video cameras, audio recorders, and lots of digital cameras, they toured the new building with Sarah Hoyles, the AGA’s Media Relations and Communications Coordinator, and Gilles Hebert, the AGA’s Executive Director.

Art Gallery of Alberta

The very striking building is situated at #2 Sir Winston Churchill Square, on the northeast corner between City Hall and Chancery Hall/Century Place. I think it is just as beautiful on the inside as it is distinct on the outside. Everyone is in for a real treat when it officially  

Designed by Los Angeles architect Randall Stout, features of the 85,000 square foot AGA include:

  • 30,000 sq ft of premiere exhibition space
  • An outdoor sculpture terrace on the third floor
  • Dedicated gallery space for the AGA permanent collection of nearly 6,000 works of art
  • An expanded Education Centre, the Singhmar Centre for Art Education
  • A restaurant, café, espresso bar, gallery shop, 150 seat theatre and an Art Rental and Sales Gallery
  • Unique facility rental spaces such as an atrium for banquets, an outdoor sculpture terrace and a ‘floating’ private lounge

If you appreciate art in a variety of mediums, you’ll enjoy visit to the new Edmonton Art Gallery. The Edmonton Art Gallery offers a superb collection of over 5,000 historical and contemporary works of art showcasing regional, national and international artists. Paintings, sculptures, prints, installation works and photographs are on display. 

Art Gallery of Alberta

The new AGA will be an 85,000 square foot innovative gallery that will present national and international exhibitions. It will be a premier presentation venue for international and Canadian art, education and scholarship. The gallery in itself will be a work of art that will complement and complete the cultural precinct surrounding Churchill Square and solidify Alberta’s Capital as a world-class city.

The new AGA will be a centre of excellence for the visual arts in Western Canada in the 21st century, expressing the creative spirit of Alberta. The Gallery will feature:

  • Significant increases in the exhibition spaces (from 16,000 sq ft to 30,000 sq ft).
  • Dedicated gallery space for the AGA permanent collection of over 6,000 works of art.
  • Expanded Education Centre
  • Restaurant, gallery shop, and 150 seat theatre
  • Unique facility rental spaces such as an atrium for banquets with catering kitchen, outdoor sculpture court and ‘floating’ private lounge

Art Gallery of Alberta

The amazing new AGA will showcase three floors of exceptional exhibitions.

Opening shows will include major works by the famous Edgar Degas and Francisco Goya, celebrated Canadian photographers Yousuf Karsh and Edward Burtynksy and the internationally renowned Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller.

You’ll find an outdoor sculpture terrace featuring work by Albertan Ken Macklin, as well as a new children’s gallery, named BMO World of Creativity, focusing on the theme of architecture for 2010.

Looking east

I was most excited to hear that the AGA doubled its public/events space, something I think that is sorely lacking in the core. Besides the great hall, I loved the third floor terrace – it’s about time Edmonton has another rooftop patio downtown (the cafe adjacent to the patio will be installed in February).

Terrace reflections 

The view from the terrace

Many are also looking forward to the new downtown dining option of ZINC. Walking into the space, I was immediately reminded of Cactus Club Bentall 5, but I couldn’t fathom how 76 people could be seated inside. Staff was busy being trained so we couldn’t stick around, but I loved the blue glass against the bar and all of the natural light. Menu details have been sparse (you can see the teaser here), but the chef has said he will be sourcing ingredients locally.

The gallery is beautiful. The building is inspired by the borealis and is made of four core elements; Zinc, Douglas fir, Steel, and Glass. With 60-70 percent more gallery space and double the amount of public space, it is definitely leaps and bounds from the old gallery. From the massive 3rd floor gallery which will open with the North American premier of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Millers installation: The Murder of Crows, to the striking first floor which holds an area for children and Francisco Goya’s infamous print suites: Los Caprichos (1799) and The Disasters of War (1810-1820).

The building moves in one continuous path from the inside to the outside, creating a very natural flow. This was describe in a really straight forward way; look at the average building downtown, and you have no idea what the interior looks like. With the outside of the AGA an extension of the inside, its beauty is open for everyone to see. Even the amount of snow held on the exterior of the structure has been taken into consideration. The basement houses gallery rentals and sales, a theatre, and four colour-coded rooms with access to the exterior for school groups and so on. There will also be three food establishments on site, an upscale restaurant (Zinc), bistro (Terrace Cafe) and a coffee bar in the basement.

A wonderful space, and a truly wonderful tour, it left me at a loss for words. I learned so much today, and with it’s opening just around the corner, I hope it leaves you with the same feeling. From the state of the art climate system to the directors desire to have an open (cost-free) building, this afternoon was full of information. I can’t thank Sarah and Gilles enough for taking the time to show a few locals the goodies that are currently hidden within. I should also thank Mr. Edmonton himself, Mack Male, as I hear this process may have been started by a suggestion. Do go when you get a chance.

Art Gallery of Alberta
2 Sir Winston Churchill Square


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8 comments to “The Art Gallery of Alberta”

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