Bob Rennie donates art worth $12 million to National Gallery in Ottawa

Bob Rennie called his donation of 197 works of art to the National Gallery of Canada a “gift to the nation” as the country celebrates its 150th anniversary.

The works, valued at more than $12 million, are by Vancouver, Canadian and international artists. They’re going to the National Gallery in Ottawa to make sure all Canadians have a chance to see them, said rennie, a major art collector.

“We’ve been nurturing this relationship for over 10 years with the National Gallery,” rennie said Tuesday in a phone interview. “We want to make sure the works are shown. The National Gallery has a really generous lending policy to other museums. It really is a gift to the nation. There is nothing else behind it.”

rennie spoke from Venice, where he is at the 57th Venice Biennale, which opens to the public Saturday. This year, Canada’s representative at the Biennale is Geoffrey Farmer, whose works are among the 197 donated to the National Gallery. Other works are by Brian Jungen, Damian Moppett, Rodney Graham and Ian Wallace. 

A work by Doris Salcedo, a Colombian artist, is also included in the donation. 

The donation includes paintings, sculptures and mixed-media pieces.

In recognition of the gift, rennie will get a gallery named after him. The National Gallery will call the Upper Contemporary exhibition gallery (B204) the Galerie rennie Gallery.


The rennie donation is being described as the biggest donation of contemporary art to the National Gallery in its history.

Marc Mayer, director and CEO of the National Gallery, said the donation turns the gallery into “the collection of record” for some of the country’s outstanding artists whose work is recognized around the world.

“It deepens the exhibition and the lending possibilities for a museum whose mission is to preserve and disseminate our country’s most-exceptional artistic achievements,” Mayer said in a news release from the National Gallery.

rennie is the principal of the rennie Foundation. He shows his art collection at rennie Collection at Wing Sang in the oldest building in Chinatown. An estimated $10 million was spent on renovations to the historic building at 51 East Pender to turn it into an office for rennie’s real estate marketing firm and a showcase for his art collection.

The Wing Sang was built in 1889 by Yip Sang, who brought Chinese labourers into the country to help build the Canadian Pacific Railway.

kevingriffin@postmedia.com

 

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