New Brunswick

Beaverbrook Art Gallery expansion plans unveiled

Plans for a renovation and expansion of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, including new gallery spaces, an exterior terrace, and a street-side café, were unveiled Wednesday at the gallery.

14,000-square-foot space will include multipurpose theatre, artist studios, street-side café

Plan to add 14,000 sq. ft. of space unveiled in Fredericton 6:01

Plans for a renovation and expansion of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, including new gallery spaces, a terrace, and a street-side café, were unveiled Wednesday at the gallery.

Director Terry Graff said the gallery will be "a living laboratory of contemporary ideas and creativity."

"The new and improved Beaverbrook Art Gallery will provide a wide range of stimulating experiences that will contribute to New Brunswick's quality of life, to the promotion of creative thinking and artistic excellence, and important economic opportunity to the province by attracting new people, businesses and tourists to consider New Brunswick and by providing increased opportunities for [the province's] visual artists and cultural workers," said Graff.

Plans for a 14,000 square foot expansion at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery were unveiled in Fredericton Wednesday. (MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple)
"This incredible transformational investment in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is about community engagement, collaboration and about celebrating and promoting New Brunswick's collective cultural history and shared values through the visual arts."

The 14,000-square-foot expansion, which is expected to take about two years to complete, is being paid for by all three levels of government and private donors.

The plans, detailed in a slideshow and video before an audience that included politicians and donors, show a new pavilion attached to the existing building, as well as upgrades and refurbishments throughout the existing gallery space.

Some of the new features will be a terrace, a café with doors that open to the street during the summer months, an artist-in-residence studio, as well as a multipurpose theatre for film showings or children's activities.

There will be an Elizabeth A. Currie Gallery on the Green in the new space, thanks to a contribution of more than $2 million from Elizabeth A. and Richard Currie. The gallery is intended to show more contemporary works, said Richard Currie.

Beaverbrook Art Gallery director Terry Graff says plans for the new space are about collaboration and engagement. (CBC)
"What we want in the gallery is paintings that are abstract, modern, contemporary," he said. 

"It has Beth's name on it because that was, and is, her great interest and she has transmitted that to me."

There will also be a Harriet Irving Gallery included in the upgrades, thanks to a $3.5 million contribution from Arthur, Jim and John Irving and their families.

Arthur Irving said his mother was a "good friend" of Lord Beaverbrook's and she would be very proud to have her name on the space in the original gallery.

He said Beaverbrook would visit the Irving family in Saint John whenever he flew in to attend business at the University of New Brunswick.

"My mother and father were great friends of Lord Beaverbrook. They admired him a great deal," said Irving.

Fredericton MP Keith Ashfield said the federal government's commitment of $1.5 million for the expansion was made possible through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency's innovative communities fund.

The provincial government is contributing $5 million in matching funds for the gallery's growing endowment and the City of Fredericton is providing $500,000.

The new structure will be made largely with Dorchester stone, in keeping with the neighbouring legislature. The stone will be "floating" above a level of glass, meant to open the public spaces to the environment and engage passersby.

Construction is scheduled to begin this fall, and be completed by late 2017.

The expansion will allow for greater rental opportunities, better ability to accommodate large travelling exhibits, improved accessibility and increased revenue, officials said.

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