If you needed proof that the art world is taking Burnaby seriously, look no further than the Burnaby Art Gallery this month.
The gallery has just opened two connected Dutch masters exhibits: Storms and Bright Skies: Three Centuries of Dutch Landscapes, and Inner Realms: Dutch Portraits.
Added to that, the gallery has also just received a donation of its first Rembrandt work.
Jennifer Cane, the gallery's assistant curator, is responsible for the Dutch masters exhibitions.
She noted that the donor of the Rembrandt came to the gallery after hearing about the exhibitions, with an offer to gift an original.
"We have quite an interesting collection of the more world-renowned artists now," Cane said, noting the gallery possesses works by such names as Picasso and Warhol.
The Rembrandt, however, will be its first.
The donation is still in process - there are a number of steps to go through when handling such a gift, Cane notes - but the fact of its existence is a sign that the gallery is taking yet another step in being regarded as a serious artistic force.
Cane notes that the gallery's ability to hold the Dutch masters exhibitions is no accident.
It's thanks to facility upgrades over the past few years that the gallery now has the technical capacity - with temperature and pH controls, ventilation stability and the like - to host exhibits involving old and delicate works.
"It is a really important step for the gallery," Cane said. "It's such an opportunity for Burnaby. We haven't had an exhibition of this magnitude for over 30 years."
The Dutch landscapes exhibition is on display in the main-floor gallery. It comes from the National Gallery of Canada and is completely organized and designed by the national institution - right down to the paint colours on the walls and the font used for the accompanying information.
A National Gallery technician also came to Burnaby to oversee the installation.
"I just find that it's been a great opportunity working with them," Cane noted.
The upstairs gallery houses the Dutch portraits exhibition, with works on loan from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
Cane had free rein to curate that exhibition, spending time in the Victoria gallery's vaults to explore its well-known collection of Dutch portraits before choosing those that would live on the walls in Burnaby.
To have that kind of freedom as a relatively young curator, she noted, has been an exceptional opportunity.
"It's been a dream," she said with a huge smile.
And again, she notes, it's an opportunity that wouldn't have come her way is the Burnaby Art Gallery hadn't been making a name for itself in the art world.
"That has a lot to do with how this institution has started to build a reputation," Cane said. "That's pretty exciting."
For more on the gallery and the Dutch masters exhibitions, see www.burnabyartgallery.ca.
© Copyright 2013