Art Centre Opens!

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Kenora Online, Mike Aiken, Sunday, 20 October 2019

The new Douglas Family Art Centre was full today for the grand opening.

Visitors brushed off some unfinished parts outside, so they could finally get a glimpse of the art inside. “It’s exciting to finally reach this day!” said Lori Nelson, director for MUSE, which oversees both the gallery and Lake of the Woods Museum. “It seems like a long time in progress, but I think when we look back this project has moved along very quickly,” Nelson added, emphasizing the importance of community support.

Between their initial visit to the museum in 2014 and opening day, the Douglas Family worked with the fundraising team of Lisa Moncrief, Susan Glass and Arni Thorsteinson managed to raise more than $4 million for construction costs, along with $1 million for a trust to assist with operations. “A good news story is what we’ve needed downtown, and this is surely it,” said Moncrief, as she thanked supporters.

“Nicki and I are overwhelmed,” agreed Bryce Douglas, whose family collection forms the foundation for the art centre. “This building is spectacular,” he added, noting the fusion of the heritage Lands Titles Building with the new art centre.

“Just keep tuned. The programs are going to keep coming at you,” agreed Nicki Douglas, referring to programming for the community yet to come. The construction was completed without debt, said Bryce Douglas, as he thanked the Richardson family and the city. Councillors have agreed to contribute 60 per cent of ongoing operating costs for the art centre.

Bryce Douglas was born and raised in Winnipeg. After more than 40 years, he retired from RBC Dominion Securities in 2006, holding the position of deputy chairman. His other philanthropic work has included raising more than $540 million for the health network at the University of Toronto.

Along with the collection of W.J. Phillips pieces inspired by Lake of the Woods is the Indigenous art collection featuring some of the biggest names Canada has to offer: Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjick, Alex Janvier, Goyce Kakegamic, Saul Williams. A juried exhibit of local artists is also on display, and there were opportunities on opening day for visitors to try their own hand at sketching or have their hands become a piece of art through the use of henna designs.