Art Gallery of Alberta grand opening – sneak peek

art-gallery-of-alberta-edmontonI was one of a group of lucky Edmonton bloggers to get a sneak peek at the new Art Gallery of Alberta building in downtown Edmonton. The new AGA building is set to officially open on January 31, 2010.

I’ve heard that some people aren’t so fond of the design of the place, from the outside, but I actually don’t mind it. It’s certainly not the style of building I’m used to seeing in Edmonton, not that it’s a bad thing. I think it’ll be something that grows on people as well. You certainly won’t forget it!

Personally, I think it’s a fine addition to Edmonton’s downtown. The new art gallery is adjacent to Churchill Square  and has already attracted a great deal of attention downtown. I’m sure they’ll see a lot of walk-in traffic to the gallery during Edmonton’s many festivals held in Churchill Square.

I would like to thank Gilles Hébert, Executive Director, and Sarah Hoyles, Media Relations and Communications Coordinator, for taking time out to talk to the large group of Edmonton bloggers assembled there. I can imagine that January has been an extremely busy month for them as they work towards their grand opening in less than a week.

Quick facts: AGA Edmonton:

  • Grand opening day: January 31, 2010
  • 85,000 square feet
  • 30,000 square feet of exhibit space
  • Permanent art collection of more than 6,000 pieces
  • Designed by Los Angeles architect Randall Stout
  • AGA was founded in 1924
  • Cost – $88 million

I hadn’t been sure of what to expect of the gallery tour, but I love art so I was curious to have a look at what’s going on. I’m not an art snob either, so I wasn’t too worked up about not seeing the displays or galleries yet. There will be time for that later.

Art Gallery of Alberta – Edmonton – Q&A session from Alain Saffel on Vimeo.

Check out more of my Art Gallery of Alberta photos on Flickr.

I also wasn’t too worried, as apparently a couple in our group were, that our two guides didn’t have every answer during the question and answer period. One question in particular, about whether the theatre could show Super 8 movies, was controversial (not that you’d know if from the video). (The Super 8 exchange starts at 1:45 in my Vimeo video.) Sarah and Gilles weren’t sure and I don’t think that’s a big deal. Ask most younger people today and they’d probably wonder why you were talking about movies from a motel. As any good reporter knows, you can always follow up and get that information.

Yousuf-Karsh-displayOutside of that tempest in a teapot, I enjoyed the tour and the photo opportunities. I was actually quite caught up in taking photos, which I really hadn’t expected this day. With the facility not being complete, I’ll get a fuller look around once the galleries are open to the public. I think the intent of this tour was to get a little word of mouth happening in social media, and I applaud them for that.

Edmonton has been lucky to get some major art exhibitions in the past, and this new, expanded gallery should further assist in that effort.

Upcoming AGA exhibitions

  • Jan 31–May 30, 2010 – Edgar Degas: Figures in Motion
  • Jan 31–May 30, 2010 – Franciso Goya: The Disasters of War and Los Caprichos
  • Jan 31–May 30, 2010 – Yousuf Karsh: Image Maker
  • Jan 31–May 09, 2010 – The Murder of Crows by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller
  • Jan 31–May 30, 2010 – Building Art: Photographs of the Building of the AGAby Edward Burtynsky
  • Jan 31–May 30, 2010 – BMO World of Creativity: Play on Architecture!

art-gallery-of-alberta-interiorI don’t know what the daily admission will be, but I noticed that an AGA family membership is only $85 and gives your family free admission for a year. Talk about cheap! Worth the investment I think. The individual and student rates are also quite low. The art gallery is also working on corporate sponsorship to be able to offer free days for public visitors.

If you’re a fan of architecture or art, looking for something different to do, or just trying to occupy the kids for an afternoon, the new Art Gallery of Alberta is definitely worth a visit.

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Alain Saffel

If I were to picture my ideal life, I’d be sitting in some far off land, sipping a coffee in a café, my backpack at my side, camera around my neck, motorcycle at the curb, pondering my next stop or maybe madly typing away on my laptop about my latest adventure.

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