By Daniel Pagan
The Nickle Arts museum received more than its namesake, after the City of Calgary contributed $3.234 million towards the construction of its new home in the Taylor Family Library. The fund is part of the needed $50.5 million in construction costs. Once completed the new Nickle Arts Museum will connect with the Hotel Alma, Rosza Centre and the Reeve Theatre, to act as a new cultural hub on campus.
University of Calgary vice-provost libraries and cultural resources Thomas Hickerson applauded the city’s move, saying the grant is essential for the construction of the new Nickle Arts Museum.
“Almost all of the physical construction is completed, but these funds will be spent on elements essential to the quality of museum operation and the museum experience,” said Hickerson. “Such items include shelving specifically designed for storage of artwork, a sophisticated lighting system for the exhibition galleries, exhibition display walls, and cutting-edge technologies for display and dissemination of new media art.”
Hickerson explained the museum’s old location, by the MacEwan Student Centre, limited its exposure to students and staff, despite its exhibitions of works by Albertan artists and the university’s student artists. He explained the university has ambitious goals for the new museum to become a national leader through community-focused programs and the capacity to transmit artwork with technology.
“Now, in its new location, it will be front-and-centre at the heart of the campus,” said Hickerson. “Some 12,000 individuals are expected to pass through the Taylor every day, and the location and easy viewing both within the museum and through digital displays throughout the Taylor will dramatically enhance the presence of the museum and its collection for students.”
Ward 9 alderman Joe Ceci, who sits on the Calgary Arts Development Association, explained the administration amended its policy, which prevented art spaces on postsecondary property from receiving city monies, to allow the museum to receive funding, based on the understanding the museum received little money from the university for its operations.
“The Nickle was recommended for funding by CADA through an Arts Spaces Infrastructure funding program last spring,” said Ceci. “That report then went to City of Calgary administration for review and recommendation.”
Ceci said the new funding is essential for the museum to achieve its goals.
“I’ve been to the Nickle when I went to school at U of C,” said Ceci. “Construction will give them a more central location making them accessible to more of the public.”
Ward 12 alderman Ric McIver, who chairs the Standing Policy Committee on Community and Protective Services, agreed with Ceci. He explained the committee approved the funding because of its benefits to other Calgarians, who would not visit the university otherwise.
“We need to encourage our entire city, but particularly our university, to lead when it comes to knowledge sharing,” said McIver. “This is a key component to wealth creation, cultural understanding and personal enjoyment.”
The new Nickle Arts Museum will be located on the first two floors of the TFL and feature three galleries. The construction of the library and museum will be completed in late 2010. The new library is set to open in spring 2011, after the MacKimmie Library and Nickle Art Museum staff complete their relocation.