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SFU unveils plan for $26.3M art gallery on Burnaby Mountain

Construction has begun on a 12,000 sq. ft. art museum on Burnaby Mountain.

SFU Gallery is getting a revamp.

Simon Fraser University has announced its campus art gallery on Burnaby Mountain is getting a $26.3-million overhaul, and the school wants its new gallery to be a community living room.

Replacing the old SFU Gallery, the Marianne and Edward Gibson Art Gallery –“the Gibson” – will be 12,000 square feet of free exhibits and programming space for the university and its neighbouring community, according to an SFU press release.

It will include an art studio, courtyard, salon and forum, designed by architect Siamak Hariri.

The gallery's website describes the space as “SFU's living room: a warm and welcoming place to find one another and learn together.”

The gallery will host “a range of new artist-led learning and community engagement offerings, such as artist residencies, hands-on sessions for university and K-12 students, and weekend family programs,” according to the release.

Right across from the main transit hub on Burnaby Mountain, the gallery will be located near the First People’s Gathering House and Trottier Observatory.

Construction began in a ground-breaking ceremony on Aug. 1.

Donors including Marianne Gibson, the Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation, the Tuey Charitable Foundation and an anonymous donation in honour of SFU president emeritus Andrew Petter contributed more than $23 million to the project.

The Gibson is expected to open in 2025 and will be home to SFU’s art collection of more than 5,800 modern and contemporary paintings, photographs, sculptures, works on paper and large installations.

A rendering of the south gallery in the new SFU art museum, with SFU art collection works hanging. The Mirage Studio/SFU Galleries

Gallery named after donor, former faculty

The late Edward Gibson was the director of SFU Gallery from 1986 to 1997 after joining SFU as a charter faculty member in 1965.

“I’m filled with excitement for this museum to continue to bring British Columbian arts and culture to the faculty, staff and students of SFU, as well as to the community of the Lower Mainland and the province,” said Gibson’s wife Marianne in the release.

SFU Galleries director Kimberly Phillips said the new gallery would become a “new kind of visual arts facility.”

“We are committed to creating a space that will extend the ways we support artists, strengthen the arts ecology of our region, and manifestly reimagine what an art museum can do, and for whom it exists,” Phillips added.

SFU Gallery was established on Burnaby Mountain as a public art gallery in 1970, according to its website, and expanded to Teck Gallery at Harbour Centre in Vancouver in 1989 and the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts in Vancouver in 2010.

You can take a virtual tour of plans for the new space on the Gibson's website.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated the cost of the gallery project is $23 million. That is incorrect. The capital project cost is expected to be $26.3 million.