Whistler Mountain in British Columbia, Canada may be better known for its sought after slopes and post-modernist buildings than its cultural offerings – but this is about to change. Following the success of the local film and writers' festivals and the Lil'wat Cultural Centre, the recently opened Audain Art Museum hopes to become a new art beacon for the region.
Audain was designed by Vancouver's Patkau Architects to house the collection of billionaire property developer and patron of the arts Michael Audain, who has donated over 40 million Canadian dollars and bequeathed much of his collection to the non-profit museum. It's sited on a former car compound in an evergreen rich floodplain.
Surrounded by parking lots and the post-modernist pastiche of the village, the new museum is a departure from existing styles. But this is adopted politely, with a noted absence of anything too flashy that might call attention to the building itself.
Designed as an irregular polygon with trapezoidal tendencies – Whistlerites call it a 'hockey stick' – an exterior of black coated steel riffs on the local industrial shed/ski chalet vernacular. But its interior offers a luminescent beauty.
A simple bridge structure draws visitors in and lends a sense of procession. A triangular overhang of glass and bolted steel angled at 30 degrees southwest offers a perfectly framed mountain view, while a series of West-Coast-meets-Shoji latticed hemlock screens draws the eye to an inner courtyard. A slice of light at the top reads like a forest canopy, while a long rectangular glass corridor further blurs inside and out. Skylights draw light deep into the soft wooden interiors.
The permanent collection galleries – solely focused on British Columbia – begin with historical First Nations art and then gradually work through the likes of Emily Carr, finally juxtaposing contemporary artists like Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun and Attila Richard Lukacs before offering highlights from the Vancouver school of photoconceptualism. The curatorial intent is largely successful; to present 'native' art in an aesthetic rather than an anthropological context and to demonstrate a unifying 'sense of place' that extends beyond ethnic boundaries. A temporary gallery boasts some of Audain's collection of Mexican modernist classics by Diego Rivera and others.
The success of the new museum seems to be riding on a kind of reverse Bilbao effect, with a gentler, anti-starchitect approach of 'build it and see if we can lure them off the slopes'. If the opening week's multitudes are any indication, the plan seems to be working.
For more information, visit the Audain Art Museum’s website
Photography: Martin Knowles
Audain Art Museum
4350 Blackcomb Way
British Columbia, V0N 1B4
Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox
Ekow Eshun considers the Black figure in portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery
In ‘The Time is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure’, curator Ekow Eshun unites works from 22 African diasporic artists working in the UK and US
By Hannah Silver Published
Givenchy Beauty’s latest eye products take cues from skincare and haute couture
Givenchy Beauty’s creative director Thom Walker catches up with Mary Cleary on the brand’s latest offerings
By Mary Cleary Published
Ferragamo’s Florence hub, where archive and atelier meet
Ferragamo has gathered its archive, atelier and workshop under one roof – a dream set-up for creative director Maximilian Davis, who takes Wallpaper* on an exclusive tour
By Scarlett Conlon Published
Royal College of Physicians Museum presents its archives in a glowing new light
London photography exhibition ‘Unfamiliar’, at the Royal College of Physicians Museum (23 January – 28 July 2023), presents clinical tools as you’ve never seen them before
By Martha Elliott Published
Museum of Sex to open Miami outpost in spring 2023
The Museum of Sex will expand with a new Miami outpost in spring 2023, housed in a former warehouse reimagined by Snøhetta and inaugurated with an exhibition by Hajime Sorayama
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith Published
AA Bronson on the radical, enduring legacy of General Idea
General Idea, an art group that pioneered a queer aesthetic, is celebrated in a retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada (opened during Pride Month and running until 20 November 2022). Surviving member AA Bronson speaks about their origins, and impact on art and social justice
By Benoit Loiseau Last updated
Stan Douglas in Venice: a hypnotic chronicle of youth, revolt and liberation
Stan Douglas’ captivating two-part exhibition for the Canada Pavilion in Venice is a haunting and meticulous reconstruction of historical events
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith Last updated
Adam Pendleton’s Canada solo show explores fragmentation of language and representation
‘These Things We’ve Done Together’, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), marks Adam Pendleton’s first solo show in Canada
By Hannah Silver Last updated
Jenny Holzer curates Louise Bourgeois: ‘She was infinite’
The inimitable work of Louise Bourgeois is seen through the eyes of Jenny Holzer in this potent meeting of minds at Kunstmuseum Basel
By Amah-Rose Abrams Published
‘A Show About Nothing’: group exhibition in Hangzhou celebrates emptiness
The inaugural exhibition at new Hangzhou cultural centre By Art Matters explores ‘nothingness’ through 30 local and international artists, including Maurizio Cattelan, Ghislaine Leung, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Liu Guoqiang and Yoko Ono
By Yoko Choy Last updated
Three days in Doha: art, sport, desert, heat
In our three-day Doha diary, we record the fruits of Qatar’s cultural transformation, which involved Jeff Koons, a glass palace of books, and a desert sunset on Richard Serra
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith Last updated