Imagine yourself there.
Art on the waterfront. Discover the story behind the Art Gallery’s extraordinary transformation.
We’ve outgrown our space. For over 40 years the Gallery has presented hundreds of exhibitions of visual art that have excited, challenged and inspired the community. National and international artists have been featured alongside the exceptional artists of Thunder Bay and the region, including young, emerging student artists. Thousands of public programs – artist talks, workshops and classes for all ages, school tours and community events – have engaged the public and connected people with the makers and the making of art.
During this time, the Gallery’s permanent collection has grown to over 1600 works of art – a real achievement, but one that requires space for storage and conservation.
In fact, the Gallery is bursting out of the current facility located on the campus of Confederation College. The permanent collection continues to grow. It is one of the largest collections of art by contemporary Indigenous artists in Canada. It also includes many exceptional pieces by local and regional artists.
We need more space to store and display the collection and other exhibitions, including important travelling exhibitions that are sometimes too large for our current facility. Perhaps most importantly, we need more public education and community programming space to serve the growing audiences of the Gallery.
Lack of space is not the only challenge faced by the Gallery. A 2010 Feasibility Study identified lack of visibility in the current location as a major obstacle in serving the community. For 40 years the Gallery has had a good home tucked in the trees on the college campus, but the visibility challenge cannot be solved here.
It’s time for a new gallery, time for an exciting new art experience on the waterfront.
‘Great art picks up where nature ends.’ – Marc Chagall
The proposed location for the new Gallery is on a spectacular site at the Thunder Bay waterfront. Located south of a new condominium development on Tugboat Basin and adjacent to The Spirit Garden, the site boasts a magnificent view of Lake Superior and Nanabijou, the Sleeping Giant.
Prince Arthur’s Landing has transformed the Thunder Bay waterfront into a vibrant destination. As a significant anchor at the south end of the development, the new Art Gallery will provide a year-round destination and further stimulus to the cultural, recreational and commercial growth on Lake Superior.
The Architectural Design Phase of the Project is currently underway.
The Project Architects – Patkau Architects (Vancouver) and Brook McIlroy (Thunder Bay/Toronto) have completed the Schematic Design and are immersed in Design Development. Colliers Project Leaders are guiding the process for the Gallery. Gallery staff and the Board of Directors are working hard to secure funding and manage the project.
The Architectural Design Phase of the project has been generously funded by the City of Thunder Bay, the Northern Ontario Heritage Foundation (NOHFC), and the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund.
The Thunder Bay Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges this extremely important early support of the project by all three levels of government.
The goal is to open the new Gallery in 2019-20.
The 40,000-square-foot building will rest beside the lake, looking towards the Sleeping Giant and offering up a spectacular view from the ground level porch and the glassed upper level. Behind, a large berm will shelter the building and set it into the landscape. The building features:
- Exhibition Spaces with 16-foot ceilings that can accommodate up to six separate exhibitions
- Beautifully functional Classrooms and Studios with over three times more dedicated space for creative art learning and Artist-in-residence programs
- A climate-controlled Collection Storage Vault
- A 180-foot Event Hall with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Lake Superior
- A versatile Community Room for artist talks, film screenings, and event rentals
- A comfortable Café with outdoor seating and an expanded Gallery Shop
This significant cultural facility will provide $33 million in direct economic impacts during construction. Once open, the Gallery’s operations will generate $2.2 million annually in direct and indirect impacts to the local economy. As a major tourist attraction, the Art Gallery will also generate an estimated $7 million in annual visitor spending in the local economy.