Beaverbrook Art Gallery: Fredericton’s Artistic Gem Since 1959

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery, in Fredericton, has been a centre of artistic excellence and cultural enrichment since its establishment in 1959. Named after its benefactor, William Maxwell "Max" Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, this public art gallery has consistently delivered on its mission to bring art and community together while maintaining the highest standards in exhibitions, programming, education, and stewardship.

 

Bridging Art & Community

Founding and History

The gallery owes its existence to the generous contribution of Lord Beaverbrook, who, though originally from New Brunswick, achieved significant success in Canada and the United Kingdom. In 1959, he gifted over 300 works of art, including masterpieces by renowned artists like J.M.W. Turner, Salvador Dalí, and many more. These paintings, valued at $2.1 million in 1959, formed the cornerstone of the gallery's original collection. Among the original works were pieces by celebrated artists like Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable, and Edwin Henry Landseer. Additionally, Beaverbrook was not only an ardent supporter of British art but also a patron of contemporary artists, including Augustus John, William Orpen, and Graham Sutherland. In fact, the gallery's holdings also included works by famous Canadian artists such as Cornelius Krieghoff, Emily Carr, and members of the Group of Seven.

 

Building and Expansions

The gallery's building was designed by Neil Stewart, a Fredericton-based architect, with a mid-century modern design. Over the years, the gallery underwent several expansions to accommodate its growing collection and to create an inviting space for art enthusiasts. In 1983, the east and west wings were added, housing various collections and galleries. In 1995, the Marion McCain Atlantic Gallery was established. In 2017, the gallery underwent its most recent expansion, designed by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, aimed at transforming it into a destination for national and international contemporary art. With enough room for 250 guests, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is also a fantastic venue to host an events weddings, conferences, and parties. Clients can choose from stunning galleries, airy pavilions, or modern lecture rooms, all equipped with essential AV equipment, projectors, screens, seating, and more to meet diverse needs. 

 

Permanent Collection

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery boasts a diverse and extensive permanent collection that spans various genres and time periods. Prepare to spend at least two hours perusing. The original collection of British and Canadian art remains a cornerstone, but the gallery also houses the International Collection and the New Brunswick Collection, which serves as a historical survey of New Brunswick art, including works by Acadian, Maliseet, and Mi'kmaq artists. Some of the most noteworthy works in the permanent collection include:

 
  • J.M.W. Turner's "The Fountain of Indolence" (1834)

  • Lucian Freud's "Hotel Bedroom"

  • Joshua Reynolds's "Portrait of Hester Thrale and her daughter Hester" (c. 1777)

  • Salvador Dalí's "Santiago El Grande" (1958)

  • Paintings by Group of Seven members, such as Emily Carr and Cornelius Krieghoff


Programming and Events

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery offers an extensive array of educational programs and events throughout the entire year. These include engaging summer camps for young artists, vibrant gallery hops that showcase a variety of artistic styles and genres, the unveiling of new exhibits that highlight both contemporary and traditional works, and guided tours that provide deeper insights into the artwork and the stories behind them. This diverse programming ensures that there are always fresh and exciting opportunities for visitors of all ages to connect with art in meaningful ways.


Artist in Residence

The expansion of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery includes the Bruno Bobak Artist-in-Residence Studio (BBAIRS), which provides space for resident artists and arts professionals to work and draw inspiration from the gallery's permanent collection. This program allows for the creation and conception of art on-site by professionals, children, students, and lifelong learners alike. During their residencies, artists will engage live with gallery visitors, offering a unique experience of art in creation. The program invites artists of all media—from across New Brunswick, Canada, and internationally—to participate in short or long-term residencies, contributing diverse perspectives to the gallery's offerings. 

 

Beaverbrook Art Gallery Café and Retail Shop

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery features a café and a retail shop filled with unique artsy souvenirs. In the retail shop, visitors can find gifts and personal keepsakes, featuring fine crafts from local artists and artisans, as well as merchandise inspired by the gallery's exhibitions and permanent collection, with each purchase supporting ongoing programming and outreach. The café creates a warm, inviting environment, offering daily treats and sandwiches, alongside freshly brewed coffee .


The Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton is evidence of the enduring legacy of Lord Beaverbrook's vision and passion for art. With its impressive collection of masterpieces and a commitment to art education and cultural enrichment, the gallery continues to be a cultural hub, celebrating both local and international art. It remains a must-visit destination for art lovers and history enthusiasts alike, offering a glimpse into the rich tapestry of artistic heritage in Canada and beyond. As part of our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, admission to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is free for Indigenous Peoples.  

 

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