The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia to Build New $96 Million Home

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) in Halifax, the province’s capital, is planning to build a new 142,000-square-foot facility on the city’s waterfront. The museum will be twice the size of its current home on Hollis Street, where the institution has been located since 1988.

On Thursday, April 18, Nova Scotia’s premier, Stephen McNeil, and rural economic development minister, Bernadette Jordan, pledged at least $52 million to the project, which is estimated to cost $96 million or more. The federal government is expected to commit roughly $22 million to the museum, and the gallery plans to raise the rest through a capital campaign.

“I believe one thing has been missing in our city and that is an iconic vision or building that would demonstrate how much we value and appreciate the arts inside Nova Scotia,” McNeil told the Chronicle Herald. Jordan added that the gallery “unites our rural and urban communities and connects our artists to our country and the world.”

The institution originally planned to include the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (also known as NSCAD University) under the same roof as the new museum, creating a cultural hub, but McNeil said that the idea has since been abandoned. “NSCAD wasn’t ready at this time to continue but that conversation is ongoing,” he said. If the school decides to move at a later date, it may still be able to secure a nearby location.

According to CBC, the hope is that the completed museum will be able to double its attendance, increasing visitor numbers to more than 120,000. The new space will also allow the gallery to display more of its 17,000-work collection and will feature large areas for public gatherings. The institution will soon launch an international architecture competition for its new building and expects to break ground at the site, which is currently a parking lot, as early as 2020.

Chief executive officer and gallery director Nancy Noble said a new state-of-the-art institution is “every art gallery director’s dream.” She added that she hopes a gift of more than two thousand photographs by Annie Leibovitz that has been held up since 2013—the donor has unsuccessfully tried to have the donation certified as culturally significant for tax purposes—will finally be exhibited in the museum’s new home.