How long will it take for the Remai Modern Art Gallery to open?
During budget talks last week, Saskatoon city council was told by Remai Modern CEO Gregory Burke it would be “mid-year.”
But during Monday’s finance committee meeting Alain Gaucher, board chair for the gallery, said the timeline for opening will be at least eight months.
And that’s once staff can move into the building.
Gaucher told the committee they have to wait for the gallery to reach “substantial completion” before beginning phase one of their move-in.
The $106-million facility was originally set for substantial completion in May, but fell significantly behind schedule.
Ward 1 Councillor Darren Hill said the varying timelines from Burke and Gaucher are concerning.
“The gallery board and the senior administration of the gallery need to actually get all their details in place,” he said. “Then come back and tell council exactly what’s happening.”
He added Remai Modern should be pushing to open as soon as possible.
Gaucher noted that many galleries take at least nine months to open once they gain access to the building, but staff at the Remai Modern are hoping to push the timeline.
He said the board considered a staggered opening, allowing visitors to access parts of the gallery as it was completed, but decided against the action.
“We concluded a multi-staged opening would dilute the media and publicity attention,” he said, adding expert advise suggested a staged opening would cost the gallery $3 million in free coverage.
Gaucher also explained how Remai Modern would progress their opening in three phases.
The first phase, expected to take four months, involves “vaulting” the gallery while secondary contracting work is done to complete the building.
Climate readings would also start, ensuring the environment is safe for the City’s art pieces to be transferred to the new facility.
Heritage Canada requires three months of stable climate readings before art can be stored at a gallery.
Once those climate readings are approved, Remai Modern will be able to move into phase two.
The second phase involves moving art pieces from galleries across North America, where they’ve been on loan. This phase is expected to take one month.
Phase three is the installation of those art works, and finalizing the presentation of the gallery for the public.
While the final opening date isn’t known, Remai Modern’s leadership is already developing their plans for a grand-opening weekend.
The event would involve special exhibitions, and programs both inside the gallery and across Saskatoon.
Gaucher said there would be a “special focus” on youth.
He added the gallery will meet their commitment to aboriginal art at the local, national and international levels.
“Our goal is to offer an opening weekend that is something for everyone,” he said.
“We want it to be a community celebration and a point of pride for everyone.”