Partnerships a top priority for National Gallery in 2003-2004
Ottawa, Canada - December 21, 2004
Les partenariats : la priorité du MBAC pour l’année 2003-2004
It was a year of outstanding exhibitions, important acquisitions, and innovative programming and research. Yet the National Gallery of Canada’s efforts to build bridges with communities and art institutions locally, across the country and around the world were the key to 2003-2004’s achievements at Canada’s premier art museum.
“From acquisitions through exhibitions, to scholarly publishing, educational programming and sponsorship agreements, the Gallery proved that the relationships it has nurtured so carefully throughout these past years are truly central to its success,” says Donald R. Sobey, chairman of the National Gallery’s board of trustees.
Between 1 April 2003 and 31 March 2004, the National Gallery shared its works with Canadians through 15 travelling exhibitions that visited 32 venues in nine provinces. The Body Transformed, an exhibition of sculptures by many of the world’s best-known artists, attracted some 60,000 visitors to Shawinigan, Que. Through its loans program, the Gallery also loaned 370 works of art from the permanent collection to 28 institutions at home and 38 abroad.
Other major exhibitions demonstrated the National Gallery’s commitment to partnerships. In the fall of 2003, the Gallery presented The Group of Seven in Western Canada, organized by Calgary’s Glenbow Museum. The Age of Watteau, Chardin and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting, presented in Ottawa during the summer of 2003, was organized in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Staatliche Museen in Berlin. And after its debut in Ottawa, A Beautiful and Gracious Manner: The Art of Parmigianino, was presented to great critical and public acclaim at the Frick Collection in New York City, attracting the largest audience ever to that museum.
The Government increased the Gallery’s acquisitions budget in 2003-2004 to restore some of its lost purchasing power and allow it to continue building the national collection for future generations. The budget, supplemented by the generous support of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation, made possible several important purchases, including Quebec painter Ozias Leduc’s Portrait of Gertrude Leduc, Jacopo Pontormo’s Renaissance drawing Reclining Male Nude, and Douglas Gordon’s contemporary video work Play Dead: Real Time. The Gallery increased its holdings of First Nations and Inuit art with works including Norval Morisseau’s Observations of the Astral World and Brian Jungen’s whale skeleton sculpture Vienna.
The issue of provenance made headlines when it was revealed that the Gallery’s painting Le Salon de Madame Aron by Édouard Vuillard was stolen by Nazis during World War II from the French Jewish art dealer Alfred Lindon. Arrangements are underway to return the work to Mr. Lindon’s heirs. In addition, Gustav Klimt’s stunning painting Hope I, a much-loved part of the permanent collection since 1970, was confirmed to rightfully belong to the National Gallery of Canada.
“The National Gallery of Canada has been working diligently to determine rightful ownership of about 100 works that have gaps in their provenance between 1933 and 1945,” says Pierre Théberge, director of the Gallery, “so we are very pleased that our research is bearing fruit.”
Here are some other highlights from the Annual Report 2003-2004 of the National Gallery of Canada and its affiliate, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (CMCP):
As part of its efforts to appeal to a more culturally diverse audience, the Gallery introduced Bell Audioguides in Spanish, Mandarin and German, in addition to the English and French versions already available. The Gallery also developed a new program of Celebration Workshops to mark events such as Diwali, Hannukkah, Eid and other cultural or religious celebrations.
The Gallery’s teacher and school programs attracted 67,991 participants, surpassing projections. In addition, through the Looking at Pictures and Vive les Arts programs, volunteers shared reproductions of permanent-collection works with more than 20,000 grade-school students in the National Capital Region and surrounding areas.
The National Gallery of Canada Foundation, which promotes private support of the Gallery, raised $2.6 million in gifts. The Foundation established its Corporate Circle program, which raised funds to help purchase Emily Carr’s painting Forest Landscape. It also established the Marjorie and Gerald Bronfman Drawing Acquisition Endowment Fund and the $1.5-million Joy Thomson Fund for the Acquisition of Art by Young Canadian Artists.
Largely a result of the decline in tourism in Canada and the August 2003 power blackout that closed the Gallery for six days, attendance at the Gallery was 455,000, down 13 percent from the previous year.
CyberMuse (http://cybermuse.gallery.ca/), the Gallery’s educational Web tool, launched Drawing with Light in cooperation with the Virtual Museum of Canada. The innovative online exhibition invites visitors to explore photography and its origins, and introduces them to great Canadian photographers.
The Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography presented eight exhibitions in Ottawa and circulated an additional seven travelling exhibitions across the country. The CMCP also loaned out 36 additional works to other institutions.
The Gallery produced catalogues for several exhibitions, including for The Age of Watteau, Chardin and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting, A Beautiful and Gracious Manner: The Art of Parmigianino and The Body Transformed. Other publications included the scholarly Treasures of the National Gallery of Canada, published in association with Yale University Press, London, and a new edition of the annual research journal The National Gallery of Canada Review.
A PDF version of the National Gallery of Canada’s Annual Report 2003-2004 is available online at www.national.gallery.ca/english/default_61.htm#Annual
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