Jon Tupper can’t help but tingle with excitement whenever he looks at the construction drawings for the expansion of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV).
Plans to expand the art gallery, located at 1040 Moss St. in the Rockland neighbourhood, have been in the works for at least seven years. Now shovels are expected to hit the ground in June, with a completion date set for the fall of 2018.
“We’re getting so close to the actual realization of this dream that really the gallery has been looking at commencing for the last many years,” said Tupper, the executive director of the AGGV.
“We’re going to get a beautiful building and something that is very functional. It’ll be a place for more social interaction rather than a passing consumption for art.”
Designed by Vancouver’s LWPAC Lang Wilson Practice in Architecture Cure Inc. and Victoria’s Moore Architecture Inc., the proposed three-storey glass and concrete building will be linked to the historic Spencer Mansion by a glass atrium. Called the Next Gallery, the plans call for a large cantilevered second floor wrapped in a brushed stainless steel that will reflect both the sky and the canopy of trees around the gallery. It’ll also include the addition of a cafe and multi-purpose theatre that can seat a few hundred people.
With approximately 30,000 square feet of space, the current building only has room to display about five per cent of the gallery’s collection of 19,000 art works, valued at more than $160 million. The new addition would add another 12,000 square feet to the building and the gallery will be entirely renovated.
According to Tupper, the last time the gallery was renovated was in the 1980s. Since that time, visitation has increased by 75 per cent.
“It’s at the point where we’re just bursting at the seams and we really need to expand to accommodate the increased visitation,” said Tupper, noting officials originally looked at relocating to a more roomier location downtown, but that idea was too costly.
The cost of the project is now pegged at $24 million and the gallery plans to raise $10 million of the funds. So far between $7 and $8 million has been raised, with B.C. philanthropist Michael Audain, through the Audain Foundation, recently pledging $2 million to support the expansion plans.
The AGGV is still in talks with both the federal and provincial governments to contribute funding.
“It’ll be quite a beautiful piece of architecture for the city,” said Tupper. “It’s going to be something that everyone is going to be proud of.”