Senator proposes bill to keep Portrait Gallery of Canada in Ottawa

NEW YORK. Canadian senator, Jerry Grafstein, has proposed a bill that would legally require the planned Portrait Gallery of Canada, which is still looking for a home since it was established by the government in 2001, to be built in Ottawa, the national capital.

Several major cities have offered to host the gallery, including Halifax, Quebec, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, but Senator Grafstein argues that since the gallery will display works drawn from the country’s national archives, known as Library and Archives Canada, it needs to be near the main collection, which is in Gatineau, across the river from Ottawa.

The portrait gallery was originally scheduled to open in the former US embassy in Ottawa in 2005, at an estimated cost of $22m, but this was delayed and then abandoned last year when restoration of the building more than doubled the project’s costs to $45m. Senator Grafstein’s bill was in its second reading in the Canadian Parliament as we went to press, and three of the nine prospective host cities—Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary—had submitted their proposals for the new gallery by Parliament’s deadline on 16 May.

Meanwhile, perhaps in a bid to distract attention from the controversy, the gallery launched a competition to choose three living figures to be the subjects of new portraits as part of its recently launched commissioning programme. The public is invited to nominate potential

sitters on the gallery’s website: www.portraits.gc.ca.

Lauren Jones

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