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Vancouver Art Gallery hits 85 per cent of $400 million fundraising target for new site

Construction to start this fall on 300,000-square-foot building
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Artist rendering of the the new Vancouver Art Gallery showing the building wrapped in a copper-coloured metallic weave. VANCOUVER ART GALLERY Artist rendering of the the new Vancouver Art Gallery showing the building wrapped in a copper-coloured metallic weave. Vancouver Art Gallery.

VANCOUVER — After more than a decade, construction on the long-anticipated new home for the Vancouver Art Gallery is expected to start in the fall.

On Friday, a “ground awakening” ceremony was held at the gallery’s future site at 181 West Georgia Street, between Cambie and Beatty Streets.

Shovels will be on the ground this fall for site remediation with construction slated to begin early in 2024, said Vancouver Art Gallery CEO Anthony Kiendl. “I feel like today is a new beginning and that actually gives me a lot of energy.”

The new gallery, slated to open to the public in 2028, is “probably the most ambitious cultural capital project in the country right now,” he said.

But more than the 300,000-square-foot building — designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and Vancouver firm Perkins + Wills with collaboration from Indigenous artists — it’s what will be housed inside it that’s important.

“This project will bring creativity and joy into the lives of millions of British Columbians and visitors from far away,” he said. “The gallery will allow us to have the capacity to share art with so many people. It’s not just the bricks-and-mortar.”

The groundbreaking ceremony marked a significant milestone for the project which has raised $340 million, or 85 per cent, of its $400-million fundraising target.

The project has received donations from the federal, provincial and municipal governments. It has also received sizeable private donations, including a $100 million from the Audain Foundation and $40 million from the Chan Family Foundation.

On Friday, the art gallery announced it has received a $5-million donation from the Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation.

It plans to launch a campaign to raise the remaining $55 million from grassroots donors.

“We’ll be asking people from all walks of life to contribute with the idea that any amount, any donation, is important, whether it’s $50 or $5 million,” said Kiendl.

chchan@postmedia.com