Sneak Peek at the new Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton

Nearly thirty people from Edmonton’s very active social media community attended the blogger sneak peek today at the new Art Gallery of Alberta in downtown Edmonton. Armed with smartphones, video cameras, audio recorders, and lots of digital cameras, we toured the new building with Sarah Hoyles, the AGA’s Media Relations and Communications Coordinator, and Gilles Hebert, the AGA’s Executive Director.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

The very striking building is situated at #2 Sir Winston Churchill Square, on the northeast corner between City Hall and Chancery Hall/Century Place. I think it is just as beautiful on the inside as it is distinct on the outside. Everyone is in for a real treat when it officially opens to the public on January 31!

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to visit the building with Torch Reporter Chris Wheeler, so I thought I’d start this post with some of the under-construction shots I took at the time:

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

Art Gallery of Alberta

And here’s one of AGA Board Chair Allan Scott, who has been working to make the new AGA a reality for more than ten years:

Art Gallery of Alberta

On to today’s tour! We met in the foyer, right underneath the borealis.

Art Gallery of Alberta

Here’s a shot of our guides, describing the borealis above:

Art Gallery of Alberta

Our first stop, after the coat check, was Zinc, the Art Gallery of Alberta’s new restaurant. Still under active construction, we got a very quick glimpse at what dining in Churchill Square might be like. As Sharon remarked, standing in Zinc is reminiscent of standing inside Cactus Club Bentall 5 in downtown Vancouver.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

Here’s Chris and Sharon, representing Edmonton’s food bloggers:

Art Gallery of Alberta

Next we ascended the grand staircase to the third level, which provided us with a fantastic eye-level view of the borealis, as well as the opportunity to step outside onto the City of Edmonton Terrace.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

We slowly made our way back downstairs, pausing on the second level to learn more about the way the new building is meant to capture snow. It’s explained in this video, which also provides a sneak peek at Storm Room, an interactive ten-minute exhibit featuring water, among other things:

Passing by the front entrance, we next visited the basement level, which features a number of education spaces (the rooms are named after colors, such as orange and yellow), theatre space, the AGA sales office, and the LRT entrance.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

A lot of thought went into the design of the new AGA, something that architect Randall Stout illustrated very well during his talk back in September. It’s a building that you have to visit multiple times – it looks different depending on the season, weather, and time of day. It’s a fantastic addition to Edmonton’s downtown, and to the city as a whole.

Art Gallery of AlbertaArt Gallery of Alberta

Thanks to everyone who made it out to the tour today! You can see the rest of my photos here.

Here are some of the other posts from today’s tour (I’ll update as more appear):

42 thoughts on “Sneak Peek at the new Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton

  1. Nicely done. I admit that I’ve been a skeptic on this building, but after taking the tour, I really feel good about it, and proud to be in Edmonton (snif, snif). Gilles pointed out one thing that makes it an even more impressive art space, architecture aside: the climate control within the building is to such a high standard that we are now able to showcase exhibits that the old building may not have been able to, because some media are too sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity (especially).


  2. Good point Jerry, thanks for mentioning that! I hope it really does translate into some fantastic collections being exhibited right here in Edmonton. Glad you could make it out today!

  3. MC – We didn’t exclude anyone intentionally. I tried to note down as many Edmonton blogs as I could think of/find, and sent them off to Sarah. The AGA took over from there.

  4. Did you try google searching for “Edmonton Art Blogs”, as I had suggested on the post where you announced the blogger tour? Or did you reject that suggestion, for some reason?

  5. MC – Is there a specific blog you think we missed? Many people contacted me directly to ensure they weren’t forgotten, you could have done the same – I’m not hard to get in touch with!

    I know we missed some, but there are thousands of bloggers, Twitterers, photographers, and others in the Edmonton area, it simply wasn’t feasible to get everyone.

  6. I don’t claim to be any sort of expert on social media in Edmonton, so I have no idea how many bloggers were left out, or why, Mack. That’s why I ask the unanswered questions above.
    Speaking of those questions… care to respond?

  7. I don’t claim to be an expert either – there’s no such thing when it comes to social media!

    Yes, I did try the search when I got your comment, but I forgot to revisit it when I was compiling my list. Looking at it now, I’m not sure that doing so would have made a difference in my suggestions anyway.

    I don’t know if my list of suggestions was smaller than the AGA’s invite list, because after I emailed the list I wasn’t involved with the invite process.

    I received an invitation, just like everyone else.

  8. Thanks, Mack. OK, neither of us are self-proclaimed experts. On that, we share common ground.

    Sorry if I’m a pain with my questions, but, I’m just trying to understand the process.

    Above you said “WE didn’t exclude anyone intentionally”… but, I guess you really meant YOU didn’t exclude anyone intentionally (which I have absolutely no reason to doubt).

    I presume that, compiling your list, you went with:

    a) the “bloggers” you are personally aware of; and
    b) the “bloggers” that were aware of your blog (the origin of the idea, and where the preview was announced), who subsequently contacted you to get on the list.

    It would appear that, if “the AGA took over from there”, and, if after you sent your list, you weren’t “involved with the invite process”, then you can’t possibly know whether the AGA did or did not “exclude anyone intentionally”.

    Am I right?

    If, however, your suggestion list was LARGER than the AGA invite list, then we can say with confidence that they DID exclude some intentionally (barring simple clerical errors, of course).

    Conversely, if your list was SMALLER, then we could say with confidence that the AGA INCLUDED people intentionally.

    If your list matched perfectly with the AGA list, then we can say with confidence that they arbitrarily and uncritically went with a list supplied by by a “non-expert” who could have included virtually anybody on the list, without regard to relevance or merit.

    But, if the AGA will not to make their list of invitees public, then we cannot ever know what the actual case is. Without that information, none of us will know the answers to these questions.

    I’m just curious how something this “exclusive” actually works. I was busy that day, so I couldn’t have attended, with or without receiving (or asking outright for) and invitation.

    One other thing that puzzles me: it seems more than a few of those invited on the tour are not “Bloggers” per se, but rather random people with Twitter/Flickr pages. There must be literally hundreds, possibly thousands, of Edmontonians (not to mention ALBERTANS) with Twitter/Flickr pages… so, why would the ones that you know, or those who know you, get precedence over the rest?

    Food for thought, that’s for sure!

  9. The Gallery looks great. I think it is going to be a fantastic addition to our humble town. It was not my favorite of the proposed designs but the exterior in real life has made me reconsider.

    Thanks for posting the pics of the tour!

  10. MC, thanks for your thoughts. I don’t think you’re trying to understand the process, I think you’re upset with the way this event was organized but for whatever reason you’re unwilling to just say what you really mean. I won’t be offended, really, and it’d be much faster than this constant back-and-forth-beating-around-the-bush.

    This was the first time the AGA had done anything like this, and it was the first time that I was involved in this way as well. It was a good learning experience for us both, that I can assure you!

    I think there are a few realities you have to keep in mind:

    While it was called the blogger tour, it wasn’t limited to bloggers as you mentioned. Twitter users (microbloggers) and photographers (photobloggers) were also invited.

    You can’t reasonably expect either myself or the AGA to actually find every single blogger in Edmonton to pass along an invite, it’s just not realistic. They chose to go with the invite-only approach. I might have done a more open-door approach, but that’s the way it went.

    It wasn’t meant to be exclusive. The folks I know, or who know me, weren’t given precedence, but as I initiated the event, it was up to me to spread the word. I hope you can appreciate the difficulty in spreading the word to those who don’t know me, or who I don’t know, even with the network effect of my blog and Twitter account.

    Sorry you’re so upset that you didn’t get an invite.

  11. Huh? They were simple questions, Mack.

    Obviously, you don’t have to answer them (it a free country!), but getting personal with me is just not a respectable response. I have no patience for that kind of shit.

    The NESW does have a blog… I’m sure there are plenty of folks at the AGA who could tell you all you want to know about it.

    As I said before, I couldn’t have come, whether an invite was given freely or asked for, so your assumptions about me are totally out of line.

    I was just wondering, why didn’t my mom get invited? She has a Flickr page, I think…

  12. Wish they could have invited a DESIGNER Twitter… I have student membership…. Don’t see much of the student part of it in the people I’ve seen going there…

    Too bad I didn’t have a blog. Being active on a Twitter feed apparently doesn’t count. 😉

    Good on you guys for getting them to realize that blogs and social media is great and all… but they’ve missed a good niche to bring in: Very active SM Student Designer…. Just my two cents. 🙂

  13. Good on Mack for pushing for this idea.

    But it ends up being the final responsibility of the AGA. They would have made up a new media list for an e-mail just as they would have done for the traditional media invite. Any omissions would have to be (hopefully) unintentional, as the group invited was quite large and it didn’t appear numbers were an issue.

    The blogging/online world evolves so quickly, and it’s hard to keep up with who’s on what topic so I could see it being a list that would take some effort to keep updated.

    Heck, new magazines or radio stations popping up take work to keep up with, as do changing editors and assignment deskers. It’s somewhat up to the people who want to attend events to ask.

    This event done, let’s just hope these kinds of things continue to occur, and the “new” media is integrated into the “old,” so we just have one media list.

  14. MC,

    I see what you are saying in terms of that. I mean, none of these Social Media “reporters” have the niche to be talking of it (Mack is an exception as he writes everything about Edmonton, some of the foodies and some of the photo people that specialize in photographing Edmonton). If I ran a blog as a student designer, I would have gotten a call.

    I’m one of their key demographics to be going to the place. What I’m saying is that they missed a key demographic that could have been covered by the event.

  15. Adam,

    Are you going to say that I was angry I didn’t get to go there, too?

    I just find it a little odd that I’m very active, currently am a designer and a student… no invite. I’m guessing it’s because I wasn’t running a blog. Otherwise, I would have fit a nice demographic for them. Just my two cents. 🙂

  16. Watch out Kathleen: you don’t want to be branded as an untouchable heretic, like me!
    Just look at poor Mari Sasano, who evidently felt like she had to offer a mea culpa and “penance”, for having the audacity to ask about video formats! Yikes!
    Honestly, dear comrades, don’t worry about me… I got my invite to the “Artist and Industry Gala-gala-do” weeks ago… unfortunately I won’t be able to attend that one, but I was pleased to receive one, nonetheless.
    Anyone wanna buy my ticket off me?

  17. Hey Mack,
    Interesting (but maybe not too surprising, in hindsight) how this played out in the comments…
    If you’re ever asked to suggest another list of those active online, I’d love to be considered. My online stuff is not as much about “interesting-in-Edmonton”, but an Edmontonian trying to be interesting.

  18. I don’t know Kathleen, are you angry?

    I judge people on being angry on whether they write about how annoyed they are and whether they make sarcastic passive-aggressive comments about how they must be too radical for the AGA when what happened is that they just don’t really know Mr. Male and didn’t bother asking because they knew they wouldn’t go if they were invited.

    But if you are angry about it, it would be pretty silly. The AGA invited the media in for a preview—say what you want about the motivation, but if you don’t blog at all then you probably shouldn’t expect an invite to a tour for bloggers. Although just running a blog as student designer wouldn’t have been enough, you would have needed to be a popular read among Mack’s community.

    See, what MC is trying to avoid saying, since he’d rather keep arguing about nothing rather than actually talk about something, is that he has run a blog about Edmonton art for quite a long time. He thinks it’s very important to the local community, and in some circles that might even be true, despite his browbeating, often bullying style, and his desperate aesthetic conservatism. But somehow Mack didn’t invite him!

  19. PS: MC, if Mack did actually google for “Edmonton Art Blogs” yours wouldn’t have come up until the fifth page of digging through largely unrelated sites. Gotta work on your google juice!

  20. Ok, Ok, I’ll keep going, only because I’m having fun.

    Adam says “I don’t know Kathleen, are you angry?”
    Hey! How come nobody asked me if I was “angry”, before just assuming it. I could have told you, it’s not anger: it’s contempt.

    “Radical”? Who said that? Not me…

    Adam goes on: “… when what happened is that they just don’t really know Mr. Male and didn’t bother asking because they knew they wouldn’t go if they were invited.”

    Hey! That’s almost exactly what I wrote! I’ll quote myself for any of you, like Adam, that had trouble reading it the first time around (please, forgive the pedantry, anyone else):

    “I presume that, compiling your list, you went with:

    a) the “bloggers” you are personally aware of; and
    b) the “bloggers” that were aware of your blog (the origin of the idea, and where the preview was announced), who subsequently contacted you to get on the list.”

    How somebody can construe this as some sort of attack on Mr. Male, is beyond me.

    Adam also, inexplicably, cannot distinguish the concept “Couldn’t” from the concept “wouldn’t”. He repeatedly makes this error (could it be on purpose?).

    Adam, what is “google juice”? Why do you, and perhaps others, think I’m attacking Mr. Male, here? And, why do you keep referring to me as some unnamed “they”?

    Again, this is what I ACTUALLY wrote (sorry, again, literate folks, but this remedial instruction appears necessary):

    “Did you try google searching for “Edmonton Art Blogs”, as I had suggested on the post where you announced the blogger tour? Or did you reject that suggestion, for some reason?”

    That’s not so bad, is it? just an innocent question: Did you do that search, or did you not. That’s all. No accusations of Mack, or his motives. Just a yes or no question, about a non-transparent process that, as we see, saw some “social media” people invited to an exclusive event where others were not. This, apparently, is enough to make folks uncomfortable and suspicious. That’s weird.

    If I were commenting and asking these questions under a different name (which, obviously, I could have done) would such questions be greeted with the same knee-jerk hostility? Perhaps… perhaps not. I don’t know.

    As I TRIED to make clear before, I have no reason to doubt that Mack tried to do his best to send a list of all the bloggers, tweeters, flickrrerrrs he knew to the AGA, and it was ultimately they, the AGA, that did the inviting.

    What was my crime, then? Can anyone point to something I wrote (as opposed to Adam’s fantasizing about what he thinks I wrote) as being out of line? Or, do I just make y’all nervous?

    What’s going on here, comrades?

  21. Adam, I don’t think I’m angry. I’m just a little disappointed, really.

    I don’t think it’s worth the anger I have been seeing from other users.

    I just wish I was considered… and that I didn’t have a blog to “show” that, or a photo stream, even though I use Twitter quite a bit and would have been good for critique and general commenting and photos.

    Wouldn’t say I’m angry. Just disappointed.

    Like I have said before, I think it’s a definite step forward for all of us in terms of marketing and being connected to these types of things. A definite good thing.

  22. Kathleen, I think that you are probably the best judge of your own internal emotional states (as we all are, no doubt).

    But, even if you were angry, would that justify minimizing your concerns? Or anyones, for that matter? MLK questioned the status quo, but was dismissed as “uppity”, “an angry black man”, etc… but, of course, even anger can be rational.

    It is interesting (but maybe not too surprising in hindsight) to see how ethically and intellectually challenged some people on this board apparently are. So much for open dialogue.

  23. Guess what, everyone?
    The new AGA is here to stay, you can ALL go eventually. No invite required. What’s the big deal?!

  24. I have to check it out when I visit the downtown core. How about now renovating the library? I spent many, many hours studying in there!

  25. Exactly, jas! It’s no big deal… Mack and some of his friends got a sneak preview tour, because he asked the AGA for it… good for him! But I thought it was funny how they kept framing it as if they were leading some “social media journalism” expedition (“Finally, we’re par with the news outlets!”), when, in fact, it was merely a band of buddies who were only too happy to work as unpaid marketeers for the AGA (“OMG!1! The AGA was sooo smart to let us come and promote the new building for them! Way to go, AGA! Yay, social media!”).

    Self-delusion makes me giggle. You too?

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