OAG, a game changer Published on April 29, 2018

  • Àdisòkàmagan, We'll All Become Stories
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Gallery space
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Artist Max Dean
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Left to right- Alexandra Badzak, Jérôme Côté, Mitch Hall, Mayor Jim Watson
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • The original Firestone family home's staircase is integrated into the gallery,
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Mayor Jim Watson
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Photo by: Mark Holleron

The expansion of the Ottawa Art Gallery at 10 Daley Ave has been a long journey for all involved. Now that the dream has become a reality the team swells with pride as their labour of love opened on April 28th, 2018.

Mayor Jim Watson was a champion for the expansion and claimed the opening week as one of his most proud weeks. “I am grateful to be Mayor during this time. The space celebrates our unique heritage and culture,” he stated at the media launch on April 27th. He is thankful to many including gallery director and CEO Alexandra Badzak who’s persistence with the project is commendable. Mayor Watson paid tribute to Lawson Hunter, OAG Board Chair and the entire gallery staff who worked tirelessly to meet the opening deadline.

The expanded Ottawa Art Gallery and renovated Arts Court, Le Germain Ottawa hotel and the Arthaus condominium project, are part of a one hundred-million-dollar redevelopment project in the downtown core. The identifiable square cube is the new gallery which spans five floors dedicated to programmable art in 55,000 square feet. The new space also includes rooftop terraces, a multi-purpose room, art studio, gift shop and Jackson’s Café, co-created by well-known restaurateur Caroline Gosselin and Executive Chef John Leung. 

The project was a ten-year process for architect Mitch Hall who spoke on behalf of KPMB architects. KPMB led the early design efforts and eventually worked with Ottawa’s Barry Padolsky who specialises in integrating heritage architecture. The integration of old and new was an essential element of the project. “It was a challenge working within a tight space and connecting new and old, maintaining identity and creating a beacon in the city” stated Mitch.

The team managed to create an inspiring and innovative building with ground breaking concepts like bringing natural light into a gallery space. This is all accomplished through architectural detailing that diverts harmful rays and by offering only one south facing window within the entire structure.

Gallery director Alexandra Badzak calls the new Ottawa Art Gallery a “game changer in the arts community”. The gallery is one for the people; “we are going to be open when you need us to be,” says Alexandra who acknowledges the mixed crowd that will come though the welcoming doors, including  students from Ottawa University, hotel guests at the attached Le Germaine and the public.

Gallery guests can expect to find the dedicated gallery space for the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, a gallery for the OAG’s permanent collection as well as changing galleries for historical, contemporary and touring exhibitions.

Currently the landmark exhibition, called Àdiskòkàmagan /Nous connaître un peu nous-memes / We’ll all become stories, seeks to tell Ottawa’s rich history through multiple media art is on display.

The space is accessible, welcoming, free of charge and truly a remarkable addition to the Ottawa Arts Community and most definitely a game changer.

Mary Taggart

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