My final day in Edmonton included a visit to the imposing Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA). I’d been looking forward to my visit here since having seen online photos.
Although there’s an impressive variety of art collections to be seen here, you’ll first want to marvel at the building’s architecture. Designed by Los Angeles based Randall Stout Architects, the series of curves, glass, and steel form twists and turns throughout the three levels of gallery space.
The space was officially opened to the public in January 2010. Randall was inspired by the forms of both the North Saskatchewan River and Aurora Borealis in creating this masterpiece.
As well, Randall Stout is a LEED accredited architect, many of his buildings incorporating state of the art technology as well as environmental sustainability.
Once inside, over 85,000 square feet of space house regional, national, and international art.
The AGA was founded in 1924 as the Edmonton Museum of Arts Association, an organization of influential Edmonton citizens who saw the Museum as a way to ‘promote the knowledge and enjoyment of, and cultivation of the fine arts and to preserve historical relics.’
The AGA moved from rooms in a hotel to an early 20th century mansion, Second House, where the museum became known as the Edmonton Art Gallery. In 1969, it opened on Sir Winston Churchill Square to international acclaim. As the permanent collection grew over the course of the next 25 years, the building it was housed in began to show signs of decay (roof leaks, outdated plumbing, etc.).
Over 6,000 works of art needed a new home. And this is where Randall Stout came in, chosen from 25 international submissions to redesign the former building originally designed by Edmonton architect Don Bittorf in 1969. This new sleek space occupies nearly double the area of the former gallery, bringing the AGA into the 21st century.
The Edmonton Art Gallery was renamed the Art Gallery of Alberta in October 2005.
During my visit, I checked out the Louise Bourgeois retrospective, The Automatiste Revolution: Montreal 1941-1960, and a remarkable collection of Alex Janvier’s (known as the “Indian Group of Seven”) works on the top floor (through August 19, 2012).
The facility also includes the Singhmar Centre for Art Education, Zinc Restaurant and Terrace Café, and art rental and sales gallery, a 150 seat theatre, a museum shop, and rental spaces (including an awesome terrace overlooking the street action below).
After my gallery visit, I explored the revitalized Sir Winston Churchill Square/Downtown Arts District and City Hall, ending with a lunch sampling from Taste of Edmonton, a week of food, drink, and entertainment in Edmonton’s downtown core.
On a side note, free 90 minute guided Core Crew walking tours of downtown Edmonton are available between June 13 and August 24. Meet the Core Crew at the Downtown Business Association (10121 Jasper Avenue). Check the Edmonton Downtown website for tour schedule and more information.
The Art Gallery of Alberta is located at 2 Sir Winston Churchill Square in Edmonton. My visit was compliments of the Art Gallery of Alberta. Taste of Edmonton tickets were provided by Edmonton Tourism.