Macdonald Stewart Art Centre
|Macdonald Stewart Art Centre|
|Location||358 Gordon Street (at College Avenue),
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
The Macdonald Stewart Art Centre (MSAC) is a public gallery and adjoining sculpture park in Guelph, on the corner of Gordon Street and College Avenue. MSAC has a permanent collection of over 6,600 works which is a focus of research, publishing, educational programs, and touring exhibitions.
MSAC is a non-profit charitable organization with four sponsors: the University of Guelph, the City of Guelph, the Upper Grand District School Board, and the County of Wellington. As the principal public art gallery serving Guelph and the surrounding region, MSAC was founded as a new cultural institution to benefit the broad community. The MSAC was established in 1978 through a provincial act as a non-profit charitable organization. When the gallery formally opened as a public art gallery on November 7, 1980, the University of Guelph curator, Judith Nasby, was appointed director and curator of the MSAC. Architect Raymond Moriyama renovated the historic 1904 school building to create a public art gallery meeting international standards. In 1983, the Donald Forster Sculpture Park was established on the 2.5 acre site adjacent to the building. It is the largest outdoor collection at an institution in Canada and has since grown to include 35 works, with an overall objective of 50, representing artists from across Canada.
The MSAC is housed in a 31,000 square foot building comprising seven gallery spaces on two floors. There are three open-concept galleries on the main floor, including a central clerestory gallery. The second floor boasts three uniquely configured gallery spaces, as well as a lecture room, large-scale art storage, and an art studio.
MSAC has achieved significant international recognition with two definitive, 130-page books on contemporary Inuit drawings that accompanied exhibition tours to twenty cities in North America, as well as other publications by Director and Curator Judith Nasby, which have been translated into German, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, and Spanish to support international tours.
The MSAC is widely known for its engaging contemporary exhibition programming including the curation of exhibitions by senior Guelph artists as well as emerging regional artists. The Macdonald Stewart Art Centre’s collection includes a large assortment of Canadian art, an expansive Inuit art collection and many other unique pieces. In 1926, the OAC purchased a painting by Tom Thomson called The Drive (c. 1916), which is one of the most celebrated works in the collection today, and a campaign to build a University collection of Canadian art was born. It is a rich tradition that continues today.[clarification needed]
Macdonald Consolidated School was built in 1904; the school’s vision was to amalgamate small rural schools into one larger school with qualified teachers, an initiative known as the “Macdonald Movement”. Funding was provided by Sir William Macdonald however, during construction, the trustees made design changes without informing him and upon seeing the building on opening day, Macdonald was so enraged that he refused to leave his carriage, boarded a train instead and never returned to Guelph. The school closed in 1972 and reopened as The Macdonald Stewart Art Centre.
On November 30, 1978 the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre was incorporated as a Non-Profit Organization and registered as a Charitable Organization.
The creation of the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre took place when the centre was established through a private member’s bill introduced to the provincial legislature. There are four sponsors of the centre: the Wellington County Board of Education, the City of Guelph, the County of Wellington and the University of Guelph.
Architect Raymond Moriyama was selected to transform the out-of-date school into a gallery which would meet international standards. Moriyama’s design added two wings. The additions contain mechanical spaces and stairs, providing an additional 6,000 square feet for a total area of nearly 31,000 square feet. The façade, with its Greek-revival porches, has been restored and the original roof-line maintained.
A three-storey skylighted gallery is suitable for showing large paintings, sculptures, over-sized tapestries, and banners of all types. Other exhibitions will hand in the five regular galleries which look into the well; approximately 7,000 square feet has been allotted for art exhibitions and events. In addition to gallery spaces, the first and second levels house a gallery shop with art rental service, a large lecture hall, and a multi-purpose studio/meeting room. The lower level provides a fully equipped facility for the proper care and storage of art, as well as exhibition preparation. The third floor contains offices, a meeting room and a resource centre.
The Macdonald Stewart Art Centre’s mission is to be a leading public art gallery in Canada and a significant cultural focus for the university campus, the City of Guelph, the County of Wellington, and the surrounding region. The Art Centre sets the highest possible standards in exhibitions, acquisition, public programming, and publications in the belief that the contact with original works of art in a gallery setting enriches the educational experience and contributes to the enjoyment and understanding of artistic vision. The Macdonald Stewart Art Centre is one of Canada’s premiere public art galleries. Its stimulating exhibition program and remarkable permanent collection have made it an important educational resource, a centre of scholarship, and a key tourist destination. Macdonald Stewart Art Centre has an objective to continually aim higher to achieve excellence through the presentation of exhibitions that explore regional, national, and international contemporary and historical visual art. Their artistic vision is to provide a venue that initiates dialogue, engages and challenges a broad audience, promotes teaching and learning, and provides a forum for the understanding of contemporary practice through historical research and the interpretation of the arts through interdisciplinary activities. The Art Centre’s audience includes the general public, the regional arts community, the university community; school aged children, and visitors to Guelph. The curatorial vision is achieved through an innovative program that makes contemporary visual culture accessible, engages the public, challenges the artistic and academic communities, and positions art in an ever-changing cultural landscape.
The gallery shop offers jewelry, porcelain, pottery, blown glass, wood, and metalwork by regional artists. Paintings and works on paper are for sale and rent. Proceeds are used to sponsor the Centre’s art acquisitions.
- Bendo,Flora. Impact in art; In its 20 years, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre has established important collections’’. Guelph Mercury, 2001.
- Macdonald Stewart Art Centre features Inuit, Canadian Artists. Toronto Star, 1986.