After nearly three decades in the making and a $20 million investment, the former Presentation House Gallery — which primarily showcases photography — is being reborn and renamed in a new North Vancouver home.

The Polygon Gallery opens this weekend at the foot of Lonsdale Avenue. Reid Shier, director and curator of the public art gallery, has been involved in the project for more than a decade.

"I've always been interested in working with artists on making exhibitions, that has been my passion," Shier said. "To be able to make a permanent space for the exhibition of visual art, for artists and for the public to get together, it's just such a huge honour."

The 25,000 square foot cultural facility sits at Lonsdale Quay, overlooking the Burrard Inlet providing a view of the Vancouver skyline through its floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

It's one of the largest independent photography galleries in Western Canada, the gallery said in a statement.

Polygon gallery

The new Polygon Gallery, located at the foot of Lonsdale Avenue, is bigger and more accessible than the previous gallery location. (Ema Peter Photography )

Shier said he is very pleased with how the building has come together and the opportunities the new facilities offer. The previous gallery on nearby Chesterfield Ave was smaller and more out of the way, he said.

In the early 1990s, gallery administrators and board members began thinking about relocating.

Funding was initially provided by the Audain Foundation, operated by philanthropist and developer Michael Audain, who chairs Polygon Homes.

The City of North Vancouver, the provincial government and the federal government each contributed $2.5 million. The rest of funding came from private donors. 

A new endowment fund and a space five times larger than the previous location means the gallery will expand its programming and host larger exhibitions. 

"There is not much cultural infrastructure that gets built at any given time so to build one on a site like this is just such a huge privilege," Shier said.

N. Vancouver exhibition

The first exhibition at the new gallery focuses on the history of North Vancouver (Melanie Green/CBC)

The gallery's first exhibition in the new location, N. Vancouver, focuses on the evolution of the area.

It showcases both commissioned and existing work about North Vancouver's early history as a Coast Salish village to its lumber and shipbuilding era to nowadays.

"There is, I think, some evocative dialogues between very disparate forms in the show that I'm very excited about," Shier said.

The Polygon Gallery opened Saturday, Nov. 18. Admission is free for the weekend of Nov. 18-19. 

To hear more, click on the audio link below:

With files from The Early Edition and Melanie Green.