A ribbon cutting ceremony was held this morning at the Art Gallery of Alberta, officially opening Canada’s newest art gallery and celebrating the thousands of people and many years of hard work that went into making it a reality. AGA Board Chair Allan Scott led today’s ceremony, and said in a statement:
“It is the AGA’s dream that a rebuilt, renewed Art Gallery of Alberta will serve as a cultural centre of excellence for the Alberta community today and beyond, for generations to come.”
All levels of government were represented. Canada’s Minister of Public Works Rona Ambrose brought remarks, as did Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Norman L. Kwong and Minister of Alberta Culture and Community Spirit Lindsay Blackett. Minister of State and Western Economic Diversification Lynn Yelich was also present. Mayor Stephen Mandel brought remarks from the City of Edmonton, along with nearly all of the City Councillors. We also heard from architect Randall Stout, and AGA Executive Director Gilles Hebert.
Many of the speakers paid tribute to Barbara Poole and her late husband John Poole, who in October 2001 donated $2 million in seed money for the gallery project. The Poole family continued to donate $1 million each October until 2004, bringing their total donation to $5 million. Randall Stout talked about how important community has been to everyone involved in the project, and he cited the Poole’s funding request as proof. Instead of requesting that part of the building be named after the family as is often the case, the Pooles requested only that the new AGA building be connected to the pedway system and LRT, that it be connected to the existing city network. In his remarks, Mayor Mandel called Barbara Poole “a gem, a jewel” and said that if Edmonton had a first lady, it would be her.
The ribbon cutting:
The public will start streaming into the new building tomorrow morning at 9am, with the grand opening celebration lasting through Monday. If you weren’t able to get tickets to attend, fear not, the AGA is here to stay and there will be plenty of time to visit again, and again. A few quick facts to keep in mind as you explore the new building:
- Steel, Zinc, Glass, and Douglas Fir are the key materials
- 800 tons of structural steel were used in the framework of the building
- 90% of the steel used was comprised of recycled material
- 5000 individual steel pieces were custom made, and laid end-to-end would total 12 kilometers
- 26 metres (86 feet) is the height of the atrium lobby
- 190 metres (625 feet) is the length of the borealis
It really is quite amazing to see!