Art Gallery of Alberta
Edmonton’s new Art Gallery of Alberta, designed by Randall Stout Architects. PHOTO: Robert Lemermeyer.
THE BLOCKBUSTER EFFECT - DESIGN DETAILS: THE ART GALLERY OF ALBERTA
BY Amy Fung
With so much emphasis focused on the redesign of the exterior of Edmonton’s Art Gallery of Alberta, visitors might forget that the interior has also been completely redesigned by Randall Stout’s architectural firm. Building on top of the existing site northeast of Sir Winston Churchill Square, the new building not only adds an additional 35,000 square feet of functional space, it expands with an additional 18,000 square feet of off-site museum-quality storage. The gallery will have doubled its available space when it opens to the public on January 31.
Catherine Crowston, the AGA’s deputy director and chief curator, notes that the Gallery will be able to host a variety of different functions. “We want to create a space conducive for events and gatherings, and simultaneously not comprise our exhibition space. We now have an interesting mix of very open and bright light-filled public spaces with very functional traditional white cube spaces.”
The curving ribbons of zinc on Stout’s design flow into the interior of the glass-wrapped lobby, with its interior accents of Douglas fir. From retrofitting the existing theatre auditorium to adding a functional restaurant, gift shop, and art studios, the new AGA will also boast additional working space for administration and expanded curatorial facilities.
The galleries will also be distinguished from each other, with hardwood floors spreading throughout the first and second galleries to the new third floor of 6,000 square feet of completely open polished concrete, a space for contemporary art. For the inaugural exhibition, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s The Murder of Crows will make its North American premiere on the third floor (see page 20), and in the summer of 2010, the Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art returns, demonstrating the flexibility of the new space.
With this redesign, the AGA will be able to host larger international exhibitions, with updated temperature control standards and preparatorial facilities — the Gallery opens with the largest exhibition of Edgar Degas’ work to ever show in Alberta. “We’ve designed these spaces to continue doing what we do,” Crowston says. “From the New Works gallery to a permanent collection gallery, to the third floor of open space — we now have ultimate flexibility.”