Mendel Art Gallery

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Mendel Art Gallery and Civic Conservatory
Mendel Art Gallery and Civic Conservatory
Mendel Art Gallery and Civic Conservatory
EstablishedOctober 16, 1964
LocationSaskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Coordinates52°08′05″N 106°38′56″W / 52.1348°N 106.6490°W / 52.1348; -106.6490
TypeArt museum and conservatory
Collection size7,500
Visitors180,000 (2010)
DirectorGregory Burke, Executive Director & CEO
CuratorSandra Fraser, Acting Chief Curator

The Mendel Art Gallery was a major creative cultural centre in City Park, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, opened in 1964. Housing a permanent collection of more than 7,500 works of local, regional and national significance, the largest public art collection in the province,[1] the Mendel is also known for its public programs for all ages. It is one of two public art museums with provincial responsibilities.[2] It and its sister institution the Saskatoon Civic Conservatory are located on the west bank of the South Saskatchewan River. As of 1999, it was the 16th largest public art gallery in Canada by budget size and had the sixth highest overall attendance in the country.[2] In 2010, it had more than 180,000 visitors and one of the country's highest per capita attendance rates.[3]


Civic Conservatory interior

The Mendel Art Gallery grew out of the Saskatoon Art Centre, which opened in 1944 in the Standard Trust Building[2] and moved several times, the last time in 1963 to a back room on Fourth Avenue North.[4][5] It was endowed by Frederick "Fred" Salomon Mendel, a refugee from Nazism who founded Intercontinental Packers (now Mitchell's Gourmet Foods, a unit of Maple Leaf Foods) and announced in 1960 that in celebration of his 20th anniversary in Saskatoon, he would give the city money to establish a public art museum.[2][4] His gift was matched by the Province of Saskatchewan. In 1965 he also donated 15 works by the Group of Seven which became the nucleus of the permanent collection. The modernist building, which opened on October 16, 1964, was designed by the Winnipeg architectural firm Blankstein, Coop, Gillmor and Hanna of Winnipeg (now numberTEN architectural group), led by partner-in-charge Al Hanna and design architect Doug Gillmor, who won the design contest.[1][4][6][7] The Civic Conservatory was built as part of the same project, at the suggestion of the then mayor, S. L. Buckwold.[4] The building was extended in 1975.[1][5]

On September 18, 2006, the gallery suffered smoke and water damage from an early morning fire in the loading dock area.[8] It reopened nine weeks later with increased focus on national and international art.[9]

In 2009, the Board of Trustees of the Mendel Art Gallery decided to replace the building, which had come to be too small and needed expensive upgrades,[10] with a larger facility on a different site.[11] A new gallery, associated with the Remai Arts Centre, is to be opened at River Landing, in south downtown Saskatoon, and will be named the Remai Modern Art Gallery of Saskatchewan for the Frank and Ellen Remai Foundation, the major donors.[12] The design, by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects and Smith Carter Architects and Engineers, won the 2011 Canadian Architect Award of Excellence.[13] The opening date was originally to be 2015[14] but was later postponed to 2017.[15] The decision to close the Mendel Gallery and replace it, which superseded earlier plans for expansion,[16] was controversial. Former mayor Henry Dayday called for a plebiscite on the new gallery, and made it part of his short-lived bid for re-election in 2012.[17][18]

The gallery closed its doors on June 7, 2015, to begin the transition to the Remai Modern.[19] The City of Saskatoon has approved plans for the Children's Discovery Museum to move into the Mendel Art Gallery Building after the new art gallery opens;[20] it is expected to open there in 2017.[21]


  1. ^ a b c "History". Mendel Art Gallery. 2010. Archived from the original on 2011-02-23. Retrieved 2013-02-04.
  2. ^ a b c d Ring, Dan (2006). "Mendel Art Gallery". The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina. Retrieved 2013-02-04.
  3. ^ "About the Mendel Art Gallery". Mendel Art Gallery. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-02-04.
  4. ^ a b c d Swanson, Jean (1964-10-10). "The Mendel Art Gallery: A Civic Conservatory, Too". The StarPhoenix.
  5. ^ a b Humphries, Kim (1984-10-02). "Mendel Art Gallery marks 20th anniversary". The StarPhoenix.
  6. ^ Flaman, Bernard; Ring, Dan; Howlett, Jeff (2004). Character and controversy: the Mendel Art Gallery and modernist architecture in Saskatchewan. Saskatoon: Mendel Art Gallery. p. 9. ISBN 9781896359458.
  7. ^ See also: Isadore (Issie) Coop
  8. ^ "Fire breaks out at Saskatoon art gallery". CBC News. 2006-09-16.
  9. ^ "Saskatoon's Mendel Art Gallery reopens with a new focus". CBC news. 2006-11-17.
  10. ^ "Future of Saskatoon's Mendel Art Gallery about to be unveiled". CBC news. 2009-04-03.
  11. ^ "Saskatoon OKs art gallery plan". CBC news. 2009-12-01.
  12. ^ "Remai Modern Brand Name Announced" (Press release). Mendel Art Gallery. March 31, 2014. Archived from the original on February 11, 2015.
  13. ^ "Saskatoon's new art gallery wins design award". CBC news. 2011-12-18.
  14. ^ "Persephone Theatre & The Remai Art Gallery". Downtown Retrieved 2014-08-22.
  15. ^ David Giles (April 2, 2014). "New art gallery in Saskatoon receives brand name". Global News.
  16. ^ Vanese M. Ferguson (2006-09-16). "Mendel Art Gallery Expansion Delayed".
  17. ^ David Hutton (March 9, 2012). "Dayday calls for plebiscite". The StarPhoenix.
  18. ^ David Giles (2012-04-20). "Former Saskatoon mayor wants job back, says would hold plebiscite on art gallery". Global News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 2015-02-14.
  19. ^ Rockcliffe, Amber (2015-06-07). "Mendel Art Gallery closes its doors". Global News. Retrieved 2016-03-22.
  20. ^ Phil Tank (2014-08-20). "Council backs plan for children's museum". The StarPhoenix.
  21. ^ Andrea Hill (November 20, 2014). "Children's museum designer, funders unveiled". The StarPhoenix.

Further reading[edit]

  • Matthew Teitelbaum. The Mendel Art Gallery: twenty-five years of collecting. Saskatoon: Mendel Art Gallery, 1989. ISBN 9780919863460

External links[edit]