Monday, 23 May 2016

A Visit to the National Gallery of Canada

Aways a sucker for photographing impressive architecture, I made a point of heading to the National Gallery of Canada during a recent trip to Ottawa. Although I have photographed the exterior as recently as 2008, I hadn't been inside the building since about 1991. Some things were just as I remembered them.

In town for a wedding back in 2008, and staying at the nearby Chateau Laurier, I got up early one morning to get photos of the gallery in the morning light. This panorama was stitched together during post-processing.

A casting of Louise Bourgeois' sculpture Maman is in front of the museum. The glass tower framed by the spider encloses the Great Hall, with the Colonnade leading away to the right. If you look closely, the moon is making an appearance.
The interior is just as impressive. I'll start with some of the grand access hallways, ramps, and stairs. The National Gallery's website has a handy floor plan for reference.

Looking up in the main entrance hall.
After entering the building and paying your entrance fee, visitors are greeted by an impressive Colonnade that leads to the Great Hall. It occurs to me that I'm going to have to be careful not to over-use the word "impressive".

Looking up the Colonnade towards the Great Hall.

Vertical panorama looking from the Great Hall down the Colonnade towards the main entrance.

Closeup of the peaked glass roof over the Colonnade.
The Great Hall is an imp.... a towering hall supported by concrete and clad in a considerable amount of glass.

The Great Hall.
Looking straight up, the Great Hall looks like a kaleidoscope.
A stairway off of the Great Hall.

Stairway off the Great Hall.
Leading away from the Great Hall is another day-lit hallway that terminates at the Upper Rotunda.

Hallway to the Upper Rotunda.

Stairs to the Upper Rotunda. I placed the camera down low to get this angle on the "stairs", which are actually a series of ramps with a small rise between each. Not exactly wheelchair friendly, but there are elevators.

Looking back towards the Great Hall from the Upper Rotunda. I balanced the camera on the mirror-surfaced railing in order to get some reflections of the ceiling and skylight.
Another elegant stair is located off the end of the Upper Rotunda.

Other large open and day-lit spaces within the National Gallery include the Garden Court and the Water Court.

Garden Court.
Water Court.
One of the few things I remember from my visit in 1991 is the Water Court, which is kind of special. Under the centre of the water pool are 9 plexiglass panels that form the ceiling of the foyer below, from where you can look up through the panels to the skylight above.

The surface of the water pool in the Water Court.
Looking up from underneath the Water Court to the skylight above.
Being an art gallery, and aside from the architecture, there were of course some rooms filled with art. Some of these areas allow photography, while others do not. Flash photography, of course, is prohibited.

A hall in the International Art area. As I recall from many years ago, all the skylights have sun shades that open and close automatically during the day to prevent sun damage to the artwork on display.
A panorama in the International Art area.
A sculpture in the International Art area.
Whether you enjoy art or architecture, the National Gallery of Canada is well worth a visit.

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