January 18th, 2021

City art collection worth almost $2M

By Jensen, Randy on August 29, 2020.

Some of the City’s fine art collection on display during a 2011 exhibition at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. Submitted photo by Dana Woodward

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


The City’s public art collection and fine art collection have a combined appraised value of just under $2 million.

City of Lethbridge Community Arts and Culture manager Jillian Bracken provided this information at city council earlier this week in follow up to a presentation she made as part of the Public Art Committee annual report back at the Feb. 3 Community Issues Committee meeting.

Besides the 14 valuable pieces of public art the City owns, worth approximately $1.4 million, council had asked Bracken to bring back a full accounting of the City’s fine art collection, which includes a portion of the Buchanan Bequest as part of the overall 83 distinct pieces the City owns. That total was about $592,000, according to Bracken.

Bracken said most of the fine art pieces had been on display at one time or another at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, and information on the pieces has appeared on the SAAG website.

Back in February some on council had wondered how the public might have greater access to both the public art pieces and fine arts collection which is part of the City’s legacy. With some councillors suggesting virtual tours might be offered of the public pieces on an app as one possibility, and perhaps a dedicated website or online viewing opportunities available for the fine art pieces.

Bracken said City staff were working with the Public Art Committee on various possibilities for the fine arts collection, but in the meantime had established a website called publicartlethbridge.ca for raising awareness and providing public access to information on the City’s public collection, and any calls for artist proposals which might arise in the future.

“From the art committee’s perspective,” she explained, “we’ve done our best working with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery for the past several decades to show the (fine art) collection in that format; so we have done our best to make the collection as accessible as possible. The challenge with art collections is you have to balance both conservation with access to ensure the pieces are properly cared for. At this point, from the art committee’s perspective, we are just looking at different ways to continue to make it accessible.”

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one supposes they could double that by buying a finger paint for 2 million from some lucky office dweller at the casa