After three years of construction, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is preparing to re-open.
Back in 2019, it began the journey to create a new pavilion and entrance to the iconic building sitting opposite to New Brunswick’s Legislative Assembly.
The new wing is called the Harrison McCain Pavilion. It’s an expansive wing, with accessibility ramps, large white pillars and floor-to-ceiling windows. The café, which was in the lower part of the gallery before renovations, has been moved off to the side of the new pavilion.
Tom Smart, the gallery’s director, said this architectural endeavour has been challenging.
“We thought it would be a year and half, but COVID hit and delayed it,” Smart said in an interview on Thursday.
“We’ve been really working and adjusting to various interruptions to supply chain issues but it’s all over and we’re all catching our breath and so excited.”
He said the glass, which is a big part of the gallery’s new wing, was a particular issue. A particular part in the production of glass was scarce during the pandemic, making getting the glass difficult.
However, he said, the final product is something Smart is pleased with.
One of the biggest things for the revamped gallery is accessibility. Smart said there has been several accessibility ramps put in place, the new pavilion space will be free to anyone, and it allowed for the creation of an art education space.
“It’s a value that Harrison McCain and his wife Marion McCain held very dear, that art should be accessible to many communities as possible, to as many people as possible, that the creative process is available to everyone and everyone can tap into and so that has been underlying everything we’ve been doing,” he said.
“(It) is, how do we make the Beaverbrook Art Gallery even more accessible, to as many people, as many communities here in New Brunswick, in Fredericton across Canada, and internationally.”
The total expansion is about 10,000 square feet.
“Because we were able to construct this space, we were able to rethink the way spaces were used in the existing part of the building. We created several new galleries that we’ll see in the basement that allow us to show New Brunswick-specific arts — special exhibitions,” Smart said.
In a press release, it said the expansion, with striking large pillars and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, invite the public into the community space, conceived as “Fredericton’s living room,” where visitors can find the Beaverbrook café operated by Chess Piece, the gift shop, an inviting fireplace, and plenty of seating to enjoy congregating in a communal space.
Festivities will begin on Saturday, Sept. 10, at noon, when a portion of Queen Street will be closed to allow for a grand opening for the new wing.
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