Community Foundation supports Gallery

Peter Guest and Ed PoliThe Nanaimo Community Foundation has stepped up to the plate to help the Nanaimo Art Gallery do its job better! The Foundation, a major supporter of not-for-profit organizations in the city, has awarded the gallery a grant that has enabled it to completely refurbish its system for storing and handling the permanent collection at its Vancouver Island University Campus location.

The creation of a permanent collection began in 1985 with the acquisition of a small watercolour and ink sketch by Lloyd Witham from the Eaton Foundation. Since that modest start the gallery has acquired works in a variety of media, and the collection now numbers 98 pieces. Included are works from First Nations' artists, works from Chinese and European artists, and works from Canada and the USA. Artists represented include E.J. Hughes, Bill Reid, Jack Chambers and Alexander Calder.

As is the case in most public art museums, the Nanaimo gallery is not able to display the permanent collection on an ongoing basis. This is due to a combination of space limitations and the need to maintain a program of exhibitions that run for four to six weeks. Portions of the permanent collection can usually be seen on display at the campus gallery, and special exhibitions taken from the collection are organized during the summer months. The collection is also available to students and scholars who are doing research on an artist or artists represented in the collection.

The new storage system consists of a series of specially designed racks allowing more art works to be stored in a confined space. The racks also make it easy to access each work without the need for handling or moving other pieces. Works on paper are removed from frames when not on display, and are stored in specially designed metal cabinets.

Expressing his great appreciation to the Community Foundation for the grant, Ian Niamath, President of the Nanaimo Art Gallery Society, said: "One of the major responsibilities of the public art gallery is to collect and preserve works of art that are important to the community and region. Acquiring and maintaining a permanent collection requires a commitment from the gallery to handle and store the works in a professional manner. The grant from the Nanaimo Community Foundation will enable us to do an even better job of protecting these important works of art as a legacy for future generations."

Ed Poli, the Gallery Manager, also expressed his thanks to the Foundation. He went on to say: "The gallery's purpose is to exhibit, collect, preserve and interpret original works of art for the enjoyment of people of all ages, whether they are residents of Nanaimo, the region, or visitors to our city. We feel that the Nanaimo Art Gallery plays a very important role in helping to establish an artistic and cultural heritage in the city, which makes the significance of the permanent collection that much greater. We are delighted that the Nanaimo Community Foundation has recognized the importance of our role, and has chosen to support us in this significant way."

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