Fourteen months after receiving a $20 million donation of artwork by famed American photographer Annie Leibovitz, officials with the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia say they still don’t know when the exhibit will be ready for display.
More than 2,000 images sit in storage at the gallery, many of them recognizable from the covers of Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone magazines.
When a Toronto family donated the Leibovitz collection in June 2013, officials thought a show of about 100 photographs could be ready within a few months.
Then it was delayed until January because of renovations to the sprinkler system.
There's still no sign of an exhibit.
“When you start picking this apart it’s a major undertaking and she’s an artist who deserves an intense amount of consideration," said chief curator Sarah Fillmore.
"We’re really working to make something that's going to be respectful of the artist be respectful of the work and also give Nova Scotians the thing that they’re asking for which is a big, fat, shiny show of Annie’s work."
She says staff have to do a thorough job of cataloguing and mounting a meaningful exhibit.
There are a handful of Leibovitz photographs up throughout the gallery, but Fillmore says sifting through photographs is a large task and the gallery has a small staff with other projects to juggle.
“She’s a splashy name, but people are asking for historical work. They want pictures of ships, collections of Fabergé eggs. They want many different kinds of exhibitions. It’s really our responsibility to balance those offerings and make sure Nova Scotians are able to see something that reflects them,” she said.
Even though officials say they get queries almost every day, Fillmore couldn’t say when there'll be a major show of the Leibovitz photographs.
The collection includes some of the 64-year-old's most iconic photographs, including:
- John Lennon and Yoko Ono taken just hours before Lennon was killed in December 1980;
- A naked and pregnant Demi Moore;
- Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg in a milk-filled tub;
- The Blues Brothers;
- Queen Elizabeth II.
Leibovitz faced a massive debt several years ago that led to the sale of some of her vast collection, but she managed to avoid bankruptcy.