‘How big is your elevator?’


Terry Graff, curator of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, talks to Lambton County Warden Bev MacDougall about some of the work now on display at the county’s main art gallery.

Cara Vosburg

The Independent

When Terry Graff, the Director/CEO and Chief Curator of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, heard that Sarnia’s Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery (JNAAG) was interested in hosting their Masterworks Exhibit, his first question was “How big is your elevator?”

After being assured by Lisa Daniels, Curator and Director of the JNAAG, the freight elevator would accommodate the collection’s “showstopper,” a 4-metre high work by Salvador Dali, the deal was struck.

“We jumped at the chance to bring the collection to Sarnia,” says Graff. Sarnia has the honour of being the only Ontario stop for the touring exhibition. “They liked the idea that it was on the border,” says Daniels, adding that the gallery anticipates many visitors eager to see this collection. The exhibition officially opened to the public Friday.

Lambton County residents will be able to stand in front of the work of artists that you would typically have to travel to Europe to see. “When you stand in front of the actual work, it literally sends shivers up your spine,” says Daniels. “People in Lambton County deserve this,” she says.

The Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery features 75 works hand-selected by Graff as true representations of Lord Beaverbrook’s intentions. The collection includes works from Canadian, American, and European artists, from the 16th century to the 20th.

Lord Beaverbrook, who was born as William Maxwell “Max” Aitken grew up in New Brunswick. He became a wealthy media baron in England began a collection of prestigious artwork.

Beaverbrook didn’t do anything in short measure, says Graff. After amassing such an impressive collection, Beaverbrook donated the works to the people of New Brunswick and funded an art gallery to house the masterpieces. “It’s really a great Canadian story,” says Graff. He calls Beaverbrook one of the greatest benefactors to the visual arts community.

Graff says that ultimately, Beaverbrook wanted to be remembered for his collection and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. And with a selection of his collection, this touring exhibition is sharing Beaverbrook’s legacy with an even broader audience.

“We’re not there just to store works of art; we want them to be seen and shared,” says Graff.

The multi-million dollar collection, which takes two full-sized transport trucks to move, has visited Winnipeg and Calgary, Palm Beach, Florida, and Mobile, Alabama. The collection is slated to be exhibited at a new gallery in BC after its run at the JNAAG ends on Feb. 7.