One of the newest art museums in British Columbia is the Audain Art Museum in Whistler, which was opened in 2016.
The art and nature of the West Coast is reflected both inside and outside of the building through the works selected from Audain’s private collection to the unique building designed by Patkau Architects, which blends itself seamlessly into the natural forest landscape. The building constructed with hemlock wood is raised above the Fitzwilliam Creek flood area.
Inside are traditional and contemporary West Coast Aboriginal art and contemporary Canadian art from more recent settlers. The works come from the private collection of Audain, but make a cohesive curated collection that will give visitors and residents alike a good grounding in some of the major themes of West Coast art from Emily Carr to the photoconceptualists.
This mask by Haida artist Robert Davidson is part of the permanent collection. It is carved with red cedar which is abundant in Haida Gwaii, and accented with pigment. Davidson is one of Canada’s best-known contemporary artists with a career spanning more than 50 years.
No Thing is Forever
Paul C. Wong
No Thing is Forever was commissioned by the Audain Art Museum and hangs in the lobby. The work is a neon light piece that combines the alphabet with the Chinese symbol for eternity – 永.
The Arrest and Hotels, Carrall St., Vancouver, summer 2005
Jeff Wall explores the issues of urbanism through documentary-style photos and areas that development left behind. His use of lightbox display was inspired by commercial photography, which is often lit from behind. The museum’s permanent collection features the work of Vancouver photographers, including Wall. Vancouver’s photography scene came to international attention in the late 1980s as photographers probed complex societal issues through realist works such as these.
Sonny Assu’s work combines modernism with the traditions and history of the coastal First Nations. His work strives to bring to light some of the injustices of Canada’s relationship to the first peoples. His own background is Caucasian and Kwakwaka’wakw. This work references the Hudson Bay blankets that were delivered to First Nations in Canada and as a result ending up spreading the small pox virus, which was one factor in the depopulation of Aboriginal people in Canada. The copper coffee cups and lids also reflect the effects of colonization with its culture of waste.
Hours:10 am – 5 pm Mon, Wed, Sat, Sun; 10am – 7pm Thu, Fri; Tuesday – Closed
Cost: Adults (16+) $18; children free