The newest world-class art destination isn’t in New York or Paris, it’s in Saskatoon. Remai Modern, a new museum of modern and contemporary art, opened on October 21, 2017.
Its outward appearance — clad in a mesh copper screen that took inspiration from another local fixture, the Bessborough Hotel — makes it a unique architectural landmark. But it’s the exhibitions and events inside that make Remai Modern a truly one-of-a-kind place to visit.
Remai Modern includes 11 gallery spaces, a 150-seat theatre, a learning studio, meeting rooms with stunning views and Shift Restaurant.
“Exhibitions are just the beginning,” said Rachael Kenny, Remai Modern’s director of marketing. “People can have countless different experiences at the museum, from a leisurely viewing of the artwork to a lively afternoon making art in the Cameco Learning Studio. We host films, talks, performances and special events of all kinds.”
Remai Modern programs support lifelong learning, critical thinking and creativity for visitors of all ages. The museum offers a variety of tour options, from guided group tours and public tours to stroller tours and self-directed tours with a multimedia guide.
The Cameco Learning Studio is open on Saturdays for Creative Space and Scotiabank Something on Sundays, a free intergenerational drop-in artmaking program. The space is also busy throughout the week hosting school groups.
“There is always something different to do at the museum. We hope people will try new things and build great memories with their family and friends,” said Kenny.
One highlight of the museum’s collection is the most comprehensive collection of Picasso linocuts in the world. The works were a gift of the Frank & Ellen Remai Foundation in 2012 and have been a big draw for visitors since opening.
“Having such an extensive collection of works by an artist as well-known as Picasso is hugely beneficial for Remai Modern,” said Kenny. “People who come for the Picassos stay for our other exhibitions and get exposed to thought-provoking work by artists they may have never heard of.”
Remai Modern aims to build on the legacy of its predecessor, the Mendel Art Gallery. In 1965, the Mendel family donated 13 paintings to form the nucleus of the permanent collection. Today that collection — which lives at the museum as The Mendel Art Gallery collection at Remai Modern — numbers around 8,000 works.
The collection — and museum as a whole — was bolstered during the museum’s opening when Ellen Remai announced two new gifts to Remai Modern. The funds from the Frank and Ellen Remai Foundation include $1 million a year for the next 25 years to support art purchases. The foundation will also match eligible donations up to $1 million a year for 25 years, including museum memberships.
Since 2011, Remai has pledged $103 million to Remai Modern. The contribution is one of the largest donations to the arts in Canadian history.
Remai Modern is connected to the Remai Arts Centre, home of Persephone Theatre, and a city-owned underground parking facility.
“With 7,500 members and growing, Remai Modern is excited to continue sharing incredible art and unforgettable experiences with people from Saskatoon, Canada and the world,” said Kenny.
Exterior Photo: Adrien Williams
Interior Photos: David Stobbe