The Beaverbrook Art Gallery is finally reopening its doors after being closed for two years for renovations.
The gallery will host a partial reopening where the public is invited to enjoy the gallery for free on April 2 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. — including a welcome reception at 4 p.m.
“It’s just wonderful to see artworks on the walls again and artifacts in their display cases and all the systems starting to work again and it’s so nice,” said Tom Smart, Art Gallery Director Beaverbrook.
Smart said renovations to the new Harrison McCain Pavilion, as well as most of the upper floor galleries, will continue, but people are welcome to explore the Lower Galleries, East Wing, Curry Gallery, Gallery Jane Irving, half of the Aiken Gallery and the Harriet Irving Gallery.
The rest of the building is expected to continue through the summer.
“We anticipate that the building will be handed over to us at the end of July, and then we can clean it up and install it [the exhibits] and get all the systems up and running,” Smart said. “People can come home from their cabin and we’ll have…the grand opening shortly after Labor Day.”
To celebrate the reopening, the gallery will present several new exhibitions, including Riopelle: the call of northern landscapes and indigenous cultures by Jean Paul Riopell of Montreal; the photographic works of Gary Weekes, — who will be the first black artist from New Brunswick to have an exhibition at Beaverbrook; Lenon and Cub: A Queer Story by Leonard “Len” Keith and Joseph “Cub” Coates — a queer couple who photographed and lived in 20th century New Brunswick; a collaborative project with the Atlantic Ballet Theatre; and historic paintings by George Padington.
There’s one piece in particular that Smart says will make audiences stop and watch.
“We have a very nice painting by an artist named Natalka Husar and she’s a Canadian-Ukrainian artist,” Smart said. “People walk through the galleries, they can stand in front of this painting and think about the turmoil, the war going on in Ukraine and have a quiet moment with this painting and with this artist’s work.”
Smart said that even though the building was closed to the public for two years, the art gallery was never empty. The Beaverbrook Art Gallery team has been working behind the scenes to implement a digital strategy and launched a new website last week.
The website allows memberships and donations to be made digitally and will soon feature a high-resolution virtual gallery of every item in its collection.
“You will be able to view these paintings from our web portal. You can zoom and click on any painting. It’s a searchable database and the fidelity is very, very high,” Smart said.
With the imminent reopening, the gallery team is now putting the finishing touches on all of the exhibits in the building to have everything in top condition when people fill the halls of the art gallery again.
“It’s been two really long years and we’re really, really happy to be open again to welcome the public and we’re going to stay open now,” Smart said.