Happy Birthday, Canada!
As Canadians from coast to coast to coast celebrate the sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, of Canada’s Confederation, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is marking this momentous occasion with an enhanced focus on our Canadian Collection. Canadian Mosaic: Celebrating 150 years of art from the Permanent Collection, curated by Chief Curator Jeffrey Spalding, consists of thematic presentations of historical, modern and contemporary art reflective of the evolution of the country and the diverse creative visions of many of our most influential visual artists. In addition, we are highlighting many recent significant acquisitions of Canadian art and, in the fall, officially launching two major touring retrospective exhibitions and extensive catalogues raisonnés of the life’s work of prominent Canadian artists Marlene Creates and Oscar Cahén. And, of course, the pièce de résistance will be the grand opening of our new Pavilion in October, a milestone in the Gallery’s history and a transformational investment in the future of the visual arts and quality of life in New Brunswick and in Canada.
The Beaverbrook Art Gallery is committed to building an outstanding collection that is representative of the work of artists of high artistic achievement and who have played a leading role in the development of Canadian art. We are therefore sincerely grateful to the York Wilson Foundation for the Visual Arts for its remarkable gift of over 850 works of art by renowned Canadian artist York Wilson (1907–1984), financial support, and a digital archive of the artist’s works – the largest single collection of Wilson’s art in the country. As a major enhancement to our Canadian holdings, this valuable study collection enables the Gallery not only to celebrate and showcase Wilson’s art and career accomplishments, but to place his work in the context of artists of his time who were also active on the Canadian and international art scene.
Celebrating Canada 150 presents the opportunity not only to reflect upon the important contribution of Canada’s visual artists to our shared cultural heritage and on the relevance of art in Canadian society, but also upon our founder Lord Beaverbrook’s lasting legacy through the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s vital role as a valuable resource to our community and to our nation. To this end, we are proud to kick off the year by showcasing one of Canada’s greatest national cultural treasures – our very own extraordinary collection of Masterworks. After the end of a four-year North American tour, Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is finally home once again. Presented in our newly renovated Harriet Irving Gallery, Masterworks: Homecoming features a selection of our exquisite international holdings, many of which have been in high demand for loan by major museums and art galleries around the world.
Through the generous support of Ms. Lucinda Flemer, and as part of our phase two expansion project, the Gallery’s East Wing will be renovated and reconfigured in 2017 to establish the brand new International Collections Wing. An art historical flow will be created by dividing the Hosmer Pillow Vaughan Gallery and the Sir Max Aitken Gallery into various curated, thematic rooms. New didactic panels, the use of colour, and a state-of-the-art lighting system in custom-designed gallery spaces will serve to enhance our visitors’ experience of the many world-renowned works of art that comprise our esteemed International Collection.
In 2017, we are offering an extensive slate of education programs designed to make the Gallery’s collections and exhibitions accessible to people of all ages and from all walks of life. Along with our many onsite programs, we are also actively working offsite with New Brunswick communities to connect more people with more art.
Last year, as part of the Gallery’s dynamic outreach program, gumball artist and art educator Franz Spohn was artist-in-residence in both Florenceville and Edmundston, where members of the public participated in the creation of large murals based on popular paintings and constructed from thousands of coloured gumballs. We are delighted to welcome Franz Spohn back to New Brunswick, and to unite these works with the three murals that were created as part of last year’s pre-renovation events (Off the Walls and BRB), and with a brand new mural to be created onsite in a spectacular installation titled Franz Spohn – Sweet as Art!
During this historic commemorative year, we invite you to participate in our many engaging programs and activities. When we open our new Pavilion this fall, we will be significantly larger, which will mean more works of art on view, and many new and enhanced public programs and amenities for you to enjoy. Please join us in celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday by experiencing your Beaverbrook Art Gallery as a place of wonder, creativity, illumination, and reflection on a diversity of perspectives on the Canadian experience.