After many years of planning and nine months of construction, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC), officially opens the new Canadian and Indigenous Galleries June 15th, 2017. It is the first major gallery transformation at the NGC since the building’s inauguration in 1988. Internationally renowned museum design firm Studio Adrien Gardère reconfigured the galleries to create spacious rooms that are ideally suited to present close to 800 works of art from the NGC’s collections of Canadian and Indigenous art, and photographs, alongside loans of historical Indigenous sculptures and objects by Inuit, Métis, and First Nation artists. The transformed galleries incorporate the most up to date museum LED lighting technology, accessibility standards, and custom-made display cases that bring artworks closer to viewers, creating an enhanced visitor experience.
“The newly transformed galleries provide the ideal setting to tell a more complete story of artmaking in this land, which dates back thousands of years,” said National Gallery of Canada Director and CEO, Marc Mayer. “By the time the National Gallery was founded in 1880, the country was emerging as home to a rich mosaic of artistic practice. We worked closely with partner institutions and Indigenous communities to create a meaningful display, representative of Canada’s unique diversity and heritage.”
Canadian and Indigenous Art
The Canadian and Indigenous Galleries are home to a new presentation titled Canadian and Indigenous Art: From Time Immemorial to 1967 featuring some of the best examples of art made in Canada over the past ten centuries. The works are largely arranged chronologically, beginning with ancient Indigenous art objects and examples of the religious art of New France, and ending with modern Inuit sculptures and geometric abstract paintings. Visitors will not only reacquaint themselves with popular favourites by James W. Morrice, Tom Thomson, David Milne, Lawren Harris, Prudence Heward, Daphne Odjig, Jean Paul Riopelle, and Joyce Wieland, among others, but also discover recent acquisitions. These include a mid-nineteenth-century Ceremonial Coat by an unknown Naskapi artist, William Raphael’s painting Bonsecours Market, Montreal, 1880, and Emily Carr’s sketchbook from her 1907 trip to Alaska. Inuit sculptures and works on paper, which until recently were on view in a separate gallery, are now fully included and on display. Selections from the Gallery’s outstanding collection of silver have a prominent place throughout the galleries.
Late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century bronze sculptures by Alfred Laliberté and Louis-Philippe Hébert, as well as Michael Belmore’s 2015 installation, The Lost Bridal Veil, another new acquisition, have been installed by the reflective pool in the Michael and Sonja Koerner Family Atrium. The Garden Court has also been renewed with a design by Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, who worked jointly with Vancouver landscape architects Enns Gauthier.
The National Gallery borrowed ninety-five historical Indigenous artworks from museums and private collectors in Canada and abroad, including the Bata Shoe Museum, Chief James Hart – of the Haida Nation, the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Cultural Centre, and the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
A new partnership with the Canadian Museum of History has enabled the Gallery to augment the story with no fewer than forty loans including a remarkable North-West Coast Raven Sun Transformation Mask by Marven G. Tallio. Thirty-six additional Canadian artworks were borrowed from Library and Archives Canada, the Musée des Ursulines de Québec, the Canadian War Museum, and private lenders. Among those loans, the Altar frontal of the Immaculate Conception, 1686-1717, an embroidery by Ursuline nun Marie Lemaire des Anges, is on display for the first time outside Québec City. A coat adorned with traditional decorative and symbolic motifs worn by reverend Peter Jones, on loan from the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., is also on view. Owing to the fragile nature of several of the loans, selected pieces will be rotated throughout the year, providing a renewed experience for gallery goers during every visit.
Indigenous Advisory Committees
As part of the planning process for the new Canadian and Indigenous Galleries, the Gallery established two Indigenous Advisory Committees of curators, academics, knowledge-keepers and other recognized authorities to provide expertise and guidance on interpretation, display protocols and community engagement. Gallery staff also reached out to authors and translators to produce more than 50 gallery texts in 17 Indigenous languages from across the country and consulted with local Algonquin Elders on how to officially welcome the various objects from Indigenous communities. These objects include the ancient rock art called the Beaver Hill Petroglyph from Saskatchewan, and the ceremonial Raven Rattle from Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. Consultation with the members of the Indigenous Advisory Committees will continue after the opening of the Canadian and Indigenous galleries, along with other education and engagement initiatives.
Photographs and Videos
Interspersed among the paintings, sculptures and art objects are selections from the Gallery’s collection of Canadian photographs. The portraits, landscapes and urban scenes provide an overview of the development of photography in Canada from the 19th-century to the mid-20th-century. Two galleries in the newly designed space are dedicated to the display of photographs from Library and Archives Canada’s comprehensive collection, as part of an agreement established in 2015. A National Film Board of Canada screening room showing four short films by Indigenous artists in the Souvenir Series is also part of the new installation.
Canadian and Indigenous Art: From Time Immemorial to 1967 is organized by National Gallery of Canada Senior Curator of Canadian Art, Katerina Atanassova; Associate Curator of Indigenous Art, Christine Lalonde; Canadian Photography Institute Associate Curator of Photographs, Andrea Kunard; Associate Curator of Early Canadian Art, René Villeneuve; and Associate Curator of Canadian Art, Adam Welch, with the support of Curatorial Assistant of Canadian Art, Danuta Sierhuis and Curatorial Assistant in Indigenous Art, Heather Campbell.
A 257-page commemorative hardcover publication by NGC Director and CEO Marc Mayer, launches June 8th. Art in Canada offers a personal perspective and celebration of art made in Canada. It features full page colour plates of works by 150 artists. On sale at the Boutique for $30 as well as at ShopNGC.ca, the Gallery’s online boutique.
Partners and Patrons
The Gallery is deeply grateful to the partner institutions and private collectors whose loans have helped share a more panoramic story of art in Canada. Canadian and Indigenous Art: From Time Immemorial to 1967 could not have been possible without the generous support of the Canadian Museum of History, Library and Archives Canada, the National Film Board of Canada, the Musée des Ursulines de Québec, the Bata Shoe Museum, Chief James Hart, the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg cultural centre, the McCord Museum, the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, and many more.
The Gallery’s work to present Canadian art both at home and abroad has been made possible in part through the generous financial support of the Distinguished Patrons of the National Gallery of Canada, the Canada 150 Patrons who contributed to the National Gallery of Canada Foundation’s Art for the Nation 2017 campaign, and RBC Royal Bank.
The story of art made in Canada continues in the Contemporary art galleries with Canadian and Indigenous Art: 1968 to Present, and in the Canadian Photography Institute galleries, with Photography in Canada, 1960-2000. Together, with Canadian and Indigenous Art: From Time Immemorial to 1967, they constitute the Gallery’s summer offering Our Masterpieces, Our Stories, which features the largest collection of Canadian and Indigenous Art ever presented at the National Gallery of Canada.
Our Stories, is a dedicated space designed to help visitors orient themselves by providing context for the artworks on display - deepening the visitors’ engagement. Until September 4, 2017, gallery goers will explore how artworks are made through a display of objects, tools and videos; an interactive map of Canada will showcase artworks from each region of the country; and aspiring artists can unleash their creativity on an iPad as footage of the Canadian landscape is projected on the wall. Selfie lovers are invited to step into a life size re-creation of the drawing room featured in the painting The Woolsey Family, by William Berczy, a favourite among visitors.
Our Stories was made possible through the generous support of the National Gallery of Canada Circle Members, the Distinguished Patrons of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation and the Canada 150 Patrons who contributed to the Art for the Nation 2017 initiative.
In honour of the opening of the new Canadian and Indigenous Galleries featuring Canadian Art and Indigenous Art: From Time Immemorial to 1967, the National Gallery of Canada will be open for 12 hours, from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm, on Thursday, June 15, 2017. Admission will be free throughout the day. Special activities are planned including: concerts every hour by the Ottawa Wind ensemble Music Viva, and Inuit drummers and throat singers in partnership with the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. The Gallery’s education team and volunteers will be stationed throughout the Gallery during the day to answer visitors’ questions. In preparation for the June 15 opening and special activities, the National Gallery of Canada will be closed June 13, 2017.
A series of events are being offered in conjunction with the exhibition, including talks, a film screening, music performances, curatorial tours, Artissimo programs, and much more. For more information please visit gallery.ca.
Art Made in Canada Lecture
On Thursday, June 8, 2017, at 6 pm, National Gallery of Canada Director and CEO, Marc Mayer, will talk about his perspective regarding art making in Canada. This lecture coincides with Mr. Mayer’s newly released commemorative publication Art in Canada. The lecture will take place in the Auditorium in English with simultaneous French interpretation. A French lecture will be presented at a future date. Admission is free.
Meet the Expert Day
On Saturday, June 17, 2017, starting at 10 am, join the Gallery’s experts in the Canadian and Indigenous Galleries as they share insights about the new art installations and the challenges of conserving, restoring and displaying artworks.
On Sunday, June 18, 2017, from 9:30 am to 4 pm, families are invited to enjoy art making, live music, theatrical performances and much more. Included with Gallery admission.
Connect with the Gallery
The Gallery will extend its hours on June 15, 2017. It will be open from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm. Until September 30, the Gallery will be open Monday to Sunday from 9:30 am to 6 pm, and Thursdays from 9:30 am to 8 pm. For more information call 613-990-1985 or 1-800-319-ARTS.
Tickets: $15 (adults); $13 (seniors); $7 (age 24 and under and full-time students); $30 (families: two adults and three youth). Admission is free for children under the age of 11 and for Members. Includes admission to the NGC Collection. Free admission on Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm. Admission to the Gallery will be free June 15 for the opening of the new Canadian and Indigenous Galleries, and on July 1 for Canada Day.
About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada’s premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st centuries, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. In 2015, the National Gallery of Canada established the Canadian Photography Institute, a global multidisciplinary research center dedicated to the history, evolution and future of photography. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. For more information, visit gallery.ca and follow us on Twitter @NatGalleryCan
About the National Gallery of Canada Foundation
The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is dedicated to supporting the National Gallery of Canada in fulfilling its mandate. By fostering strong philanthropic partnerships, the Foundation provides the Gallery with the additional financial support required to lead Canada’s visual arts community locally, nationally and internationally. The blend of public support and private philanthropy empowers the Gallery to preserve and interpret Canada’s visual arts heritage. The Foundation welcomes present and deferred gifts for special projects and endowments. To learn more about the National Gallery of Canada Foundation, visit ngcfoundation.ca and follow us on Twitter @NGC_Foundation
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