Record donation jump starts project to build new Vancouver Art Gallery building

By Kate Taylor

After a decade of planning, the Vancouver Art Gallery hopes to break ground on a new building in a year’s time – because a donor has come forward with a record $100-million gift for the project.

The VAG announced Thursday that Vancouver art collector, philanthropist and home builder Michael Audain is contributing $100-million toward the construction of its proposed gallery and visual art centre at Cambie and Beatty Streets. The gift, from Audain and his wife, Yoshi Karasawa, through the Audain Foundation, is the largest cash donation ever made to a public art gallery in Canada, and should jump start the much-delayed project.

… Plans for both the building, on land that the City of Vancouver first agreed to donate in 2011, and its proposed programming have expanded during the long gestation period. The site will now include artists’ studios and accommodation, a daycare and preschool, an Indigenous community house and 7,400 square metres of exhibition space – more than double that of the current Robson Square building. The building, designed by Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron with Vancouver’s Perkins & Will, as well as input from Indigenous artists, is intended to reflect a Coast Salish world view and will feature a façade inspired by traditional weaving.

… “I never studied art in any formal sense; everything I’ve learned is by visiting public art galleries. The Vancouver Art Gallery has provided me with a broad education, and a place where I’ve had a great deal of enjoyment,” he said. “I’ve always felt I owed a lot to my adopted town and particularly to the Vancouver Art Gallery.” He added that while the art establishment had traditionally given precedence to European traditions, it was important the gallery project recognize that art had been created in the Vancouver region for thousands of years.

Source: The Globe and Mail