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The McMichael marks 50th anniversary with launch of commemorative initiatives, events, and programs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 12, 2016, Kleinburg, ON – On Tuesday, April 12, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection officially launched its 50th anniversary season. To celebrate, the McMichael announced a number of planned special initiatives, exhibitions, programs, and events, as well as announcing it has officially named the roadway leading to the gallery. In celebrating this milestone year, the McMichael is thanking all of the communities—artists, all levels of government, sponsors, volunteers, members, and patrons—that have come together to help shape the gallery. 

The gallery was founded by Robert and Signe McMichael, who began collecting paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries in 1955. In the early 1960s, the McMichaels welcomed the community into their Kleinburg home and gallery, and on November 18, 1965, donated their collection of 194 paintings—as well as their home and land—to the Province of Ontario. Officially opened as the “McMichael Conservation Collection of Art” on July 8, 1966, the gallery’s permanent collection has now grown into one of the most important collections of Canadian art. 

The legacy of giving started with the McMichaels and continues today with the support of many communities who are invested in the longevity of this important cultural institution. In expressing this sentiment, the McMichael is pleased to announce that it has received new funding totaling $550,000 from the Government of Canada through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. The first portion of this funding is a grant from Heritage Canada for $475,000 to support renovations of the Meeting House and Artists’ Studio building. This amount is combined with the generous $500,000 the McMichael received from the Province in 2014. These combined funds will allow the McMichael to move forward with its plans to renovate and improve the historic on-site carriage house and create an accessible art studio and short-term accommodations for visiting artists. An additional grant of $75,000 from Heritage Canada will be used for important facility safety and asset preservation improvements.

“The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is delighted and grateful for this funding, allowing the gallery to upgrade its facilities to ensure art is accessible for all visitors,” said Upkar Arora, immediate Past Chair of the McMichael Board of Trustees. “Our 50th anniversary is as much about celebrating the past as it is the future, and with the support of this funding and the continuing generosity of public and private donors, the future looks bright. We are excited about the next fifty years as our collection continues to grow and we continue to provide a unique arts and culture experience for the families that live in our local community, as well as national and international audiences.”

To officially commemorate the McMichael’s half-century anniversary, the roadway leading to the gallery has been named. Revealed for the first time today, the name is En Plein Air Drive. “En plein air” is a phrased borrowed from the French meaning “open in full air”. In reference to art, the term was first used in the early to mid-nineteenth century, when artists such as John Constable in England and the French Barbizon School introduced the practice of painting outside. Throughout the twentieth century, “en plein air” became one of the main approaches to painting landscapes practiced by artists including Canadians J.W. Morrice, Maurice Cullen, Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven, Emily Carr, and several contemporary painters. This painting style reflects the McMichael’s unique cultural landscape that combines art and nature, and the type of setting that inspired many of the best Canadian artists.

“The McMichael provides a fantastic showcase of Canada’s rich artistic heritage and the wealth of talent we have within our borders,” said Michael Coteau, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “Our government is proud of our partnership with arts agencies like the McMichael. I am delighted to congratulate everyone who has contributed to the success of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and wish them another 50 years of success.”

The McMichael invites visitors to participate in the following initiatives as it celebrates this special year.

McMichael Milestones Interactive Timeline

This past November 18th marked the 50th anniversary of the McMichaels signing the agreement with the Province to donate their home, property and art collection. The McMichael Milestones Interactive Timeline, 1966-2016, showcases significant events of the past fifty years that have made the gallery what it is today. Discover these moments by viewing the timeline at mcmichael.com/milestones.

50/50/50 Special Exhibition Program: June 4, 2016 to January 8, 2017

Titled 50/50/50, this special exhibition program will invite visitors to experience art in fifty-year leaps stretching backward and forward from the McMichael’s founding years in the mid-1960s.

Through three distinct yet complementary exhibitions, the gallery celebrates historic, Modern, and contemporary Canadian art at its best: The Wounds of War, featuring the WWI-period work of A.Y. Jackson and Tom Thomson; In Studio, featuring the first solo exhibition of Jack Bush’s abstract work in a major public gallery in the Toronto area since 1976; and Needles and Pins, featuring the work of Colleen Heslin, the national winner of the Annual RBC Canadian Painting Competition in 2013

Moonlight Gala: June 4, 2016

The McMichael’s 50th anniversary signature fundraising event, the Moonlight Gala will take place on Saturday, June 4. This will be an exciting and memorable event featuring an array of talented Canadian musicians, gourmet cuisine, an exhibition preview, Master of Ceremony Ken Shaw, Auctioneer Jeanne Beker, and a host of Canadian celebrities. For more information on the gala and to purchase tickets, visit moonlightgala.mcmichael.com.

McMichael Collection Wines

The McMichael is launching a new wine collection with Diamond Estates, featuring Group of Seven artworks on the bottles, which will be available in LCBOs in May. The wines are available in cabernet merlot and chardonnay.

The McMichael and the Kleinburg Public School’s Art Club

The McMichael’s education team will be working with the Art Club at Kleinburg Public School on a Mapping Landscapes project as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations. Mapping Landscapes is a new studio program created in collaboration with contemporary Canadian artist John Hartman, now offered to student groups in grades 7-12. Students create a panoramic landscape painting with personal significance focused on the history of the McMichael and Humber River Valley lands. The exhibition of their works will open at the McMichael in the community gallery in May.

50th Anniversary of Opening Day: July 8, 2016

On Friday, July 8, a special ceremony with invited government officials, dignitaries, artists, and descendants of the McMichaels and Group of Seven artists will be held at the McMichael to mark the day fifty years ago that the gallery first opened its doors to the public.

McMichael’s Fab 50s!: July 9 and 10, 2016

As a thank you to all its communities of supporters, the McMichael will host a public celebration with special programming and free admission for the weekend of July 9 and 10. These two days of celebration will consist of live art battles, a great en plein air painting adventure, musical performances, tours, and art making.

McMichael 50th Anniversary Website

The website, 50years.mcmichael.com, is a digital celebration of the gallery’s anniversary and the hub of information for all programs, exhibitions, and events to commemorate this significant milestone. The website also has a number of fascinating articles about the gallery’s collection and upcoming exhibitions.

The McMichael has received generous support from the following sponsors: 50th Anniversary Premier Partner, RBC; 50th Anniversary Partners, Deloitte, Hatch, and Nashville Developments Inc.; and Community Events Partner, TransCanada Pipelines.

About the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of over 6,000 artworks by Canadian artists, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists. The gallery is located on 100 acres of northern landscape and hiking trails at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in the City of Vaughan. For more information:  mcmichael.com.

Media Contacts:

Daniela Travierso-Galati
Media Relations and Communications Coordinator
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905.893.1121 ext. 2210
dtravierso-galati@mcmichael.com

Nick Foglia
Director, Communications, Marketing and Sales
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905.893.1121 ext. 2265
nfoglia@mcmichael.com

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50th Anniversary Premier Partner

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50th Anniversary Partners

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Community Events Partner

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Media Partners

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