Mendel Art Gallery closes its doors

Watch above: Saskatoon’s Mendel Art Gallery has closed its doors. As Amber Rockliffe reports, it was a bitter-sweet day as the galley prepares to transition to the Remai Modern Art Gallery of Saskatchewan.

SASKATOON – It was a bitter-sweet day for many in Saskatoon as one of the city’s most iconic spaces closed its doors. The Mendel Art Gallery marked its final day of operation Sunday with free tours, activities and exhibitions.

“It’s a sad day, but we’ve been going through the testimonials and recognizing the wonderful history of the art gallery, and that legacy is so important to the Remai Modern,” explained the gallery’s director and CEO Gregory Burke.

He said making the transition to the Remai Modern Art Gallery of Saskatchewan will be extensive.

“There are 7,700 objects in the collection here, and all of them have to be inspected and then delicately wrapped ready for the move, that’s a lot of work.”

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Burke said new jobs have been offered to all Mendel employees, either with the city or Remai Modern.

“We posted a lot of our jobs for Remai Modern towards the beginning of May,” he explained.

“Priority is given to Mendel staff so we’ve been going through applications for the last couple weeks and we’ll continue doing interviews.”

He said the creation of Remai Modern couldn’t have happened without the rich foundation of the Mendel.

Helen Coleman – better known as “Bubs”- has been involved with the gallery for more than 50 years. In May, she published a book, Dreaming a Gallery: Saskatoon’s Mendel Art Gallery in History and Memory, which can be purchased at McNally Robinson.

“I realized when I got into this that of course there was no history of the Mendel Art Gallery, so that’s what this has become – an institutional record,” Coleman explained.

On Sunday, Coleman signed copies of her book for members of the public.

The gallery space will be converted into the Children’s Discovery Museum, which is expected to open in 2017.

The museum will include nine exhibit areas, a northern lights structure at the entrance, and a subterranean area for children to explore mining and geology.