Thunder Bay·Audio

Thunder Bay art gallery receives $11.5M federal government funding for relocation

Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Patty Hajdu announced a funding of $11.5 million on behalf of the federal government on Tuesday to support the Thunder Bay Art Gallery's Waterfront relocation project.

The gallery will move from its current home on the Confederation College campus to the waterfront

On the lakeside, the design for the proposed new Thunder Bay Art Gallery would include a covered area, 'for the public, for art classes to spill onto,' said director Sharon Godwin. (Patkau Architects and Brook McIlroy)

Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Patty Hajdu announced a funding of $11.5 million on behalf of the federal government on Tuesday to support the Thunder Bay Art Gallery's Waterfront relocation project.

"It's the largest grant in the Cultural Spaces Fund that's been awarded so far and it's obviously a reflection of the need up here," said Patty Hajdu, who is also the Minister of Employment, Workforce, Development and Labour.

"It's something that I'm incredibly proud of."

The $33 million project will see the art gallery move from its current location on the Confederation College campus to a new building on the city's waterfront.

"This announcement is really historic because it means that the new Thunder Bay art gallery will be built," said art gallery director, Sharon Godwin.

She said Tuesday's grant means the project is 80 per cent funded.

"We were really gratified to know that the federal government saw the benefit of this gallery in Thunder Bay ... so it feels like a major achievement that this grant has come forward," Godwin said.

She said the guest book at the current art gallery is filled with signatures from "people from all over world," which means the new location at the waterfront will only attract more visitors to the city's art gallery and to northwestern Ontario.

"We know that the waterfront attracts all kinds of people ... [and] what will happen at the waterfront is people accidently finding the gallery because the site is so much more visible than at the college," Godwin explained.

Along with tourism benefits, Godwin believes the relocation project will also benefit the city economically as visitors will hopefully choose to stay in the city for a few extra days.

Minister Hajdu believes the new, two-storey art gallery will help attract more visitors with its design based on the sleeping giant and views of Lake Superior.

Thunder Bay art gallery director Sharon Godwin stands at the site where the art gallery will be relocating to. (Kris Ketonen / CBC)

"The art gallery, where it is now ... is far away, it's not necessarily accessible [and] many people don't know it exists," Minister Hajdu explained.

"If you see the designs, it's designed to take advantage of the incredible beauty of this region ... and it will be a welcoming space."

The construction of the new, two-storey, 38,000 square-foot art gallery is expected to start next spring.