An impressive private collection goes public, with the newest and an important addition to B.C’s art sector.
Art collector and philanthropist Michael Audain and his wife, Yoshiko Karasawa are to be thanked for this large-scale art project. Their plan to share the beautiful creative works from local artists was long inspired by a trip taken back in the early 1990s. The couple had visited the Maeght Foundation located in St. Paul de Vence (not so far off from Nice). They discovered that the Marguerite and Aimé Foundation had been beautifully based upon the friendship between Aimé Maeght, a gallery owner in Paris, and artists such as Alexander Calder, Joan Miro, Alberto Giacometti Georges Braque, and also, Marc Chagal. Audain sought to go about something, local, in the same vein. Being not only a collector for many years, Michael Audain has also been a wonderful part of the local art world, donating tens of millions of dollars to various cultural institutions, including the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Certainly a warm gesture, Audain believed that it would be far more advantageous to open the collection up to the public during the couple’s lifetime, rather than have the art changed within hands years later, and there was little that posed an opposition in the couple’s minds. Their desire was to invite people of all ages to visit year round, and to engage in not only their Permanent Collection of British Columbia Art, but to also experience temporary exhibitions. Moreover, due to Audain Art Museum’s strong commitment to encouraging art appreciation in children, the museum would be free to anyone 16 years of age and younger, with admission for adults at just $18.
And what was planned, and began as a considerably smaller structure, turned into a rather sprawling 55,000 square feet icon in Whistler. Designed by Vancouver-based architectural firm, Patkau Architects, the building was to represent the likeness of a lantern within a forest, with its bold black exterior, and warm wood interior—creating such a beautiful feeling, full of light, beauty and life. And though the modern space is full of curiosity within its walls, gently moving visitors to through the different areas, nature is wonderfully never so far off, or out of sight. Certainly understated, yet endlessly inspiring, with notable works respectfully showcased throughout—such as the grand piece, “The Dance Screen”, by master carver James Hart takes centre stage, and alongside over 20 pieces of Emily Carr, and that of E.J Hughes.
And though the museum is so beautiful situated, many have wondered why the chosen location. For someone who travels a great deal, Michael Audain reflects on international visits to B.C—with a number of them heading straight to Whistler, as opposed to many local’s beliefs of Vancouver being the main stopping point. And thankfully, another reason to book a trip to Whistler for both local and international visitors alike.