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JANUARY 22 - 25, 2014

I booked my tickets for the trip in early December. Of course the weather was not predictable at that time. A very cold weather system was sitting over Ottawa by the time I was scheduled to fly, with daytime highs around -20 to -25 C, nighttime temperatures dropping to -30 to -35, and all of those frigid numbers further lowered by the wind chill down to -30 to -40 or lower. BRRRRR! At least it was sunny ...

Great Hall renovations shrouded in a cover designed to look like the face of a glacier.

This was an interesting concept. The window and roof replacement project in the Great Hall of the gallery required a weatherproof "wrap" to allow work to proceed in winter conditions. The fabric was covered with the image of a glacier. As the window project was completed, the wrap was to be slowly removed to simulate a melting glacier, as well as unveil the new building envelope. However, plans went a bit astray. Rumour has it that some of the custom windows were broken on arrival and had to be re-ordered. The delay pushed project completion into 2014, and the "glacier" has yet to melt off the project.

Main entry hall looking back towards entrance.

I have mixed feelings about this entry hall. It is a huge, long, hallway that is essentially a total waste of space. It is attractive on a sunny day, though, and does provide lots of places for lounging around whilst waiting for members of your party who are lost in the gallery to find their way back to the entrance.

My name on the Gallery's 125 YEARS OF DONORS recognition wall.

On the other hand, some of the wall space in the hall is home to the National Gallery's donor recognition wall. I have donated a number of things to the Gallery over the years, and was thus honoured when the wall was put up to help celebrate the Gallery's 125th Anniversary in 2005. I received an invitation to the unveiling of the donor wall, but at that time was not aware that I was on the wall! I accidentally found out a few years later.

Rideau Chapel with Janet Cardiff FORTY-PART MOTET installation.

I was very happy to find out that the award-winning and internationally-acclaimed Janet Cardiff sound installation FORTY-PART MOTET was "playing" in the Rideau Chapel. I sat through it twice on Thursday and twice on Friday. It is amazing. The concept is so simple yet the result is stunning. Forty speakers ring the room, each speaker broadcasts the sound of one person singing their part of an early arrangement that was written for a choir of forty.

Firstly, the quality of the recording and playback makes it seem as if those forty singers are in the room with you. Secondly, the placement of the speakers allows you to move around them and vary your proximity to any one, or all, of them, and thus change what your hear and how you hear it.

Rideau Chapel with Janet Cardiff FORTY-PART MOTET installation.

The story of the Rideau Chapel is interesting. A number of years ago it was to be torn down, but parts of the building were salvaged and saved. The ceiling roundels collapsed flat in storage, though, and the columns were left outside for years and lost all of their original finish. Finally it was restored and installed inside the National Gallery, in much of its original glory. The light in the windows around the Chapel is only simulated daylight, the chapel itself is completely enclosed inside the gallery.

The Garden Court, seen from the upper level.

Stairway to the curatorial wing.


Exterior sculpture.

Then it was off to the National War Museum. This is a long, low building situated in a large, undeveloped area north of Ottawa town centre. There are a number of displays and dioramas on the main floor showing Canadians in various wars over the past 300 years. Downstairs is the "toys for boys" room, containing numberous military vehicles and weapons, such as tanks, trucks, heavy guns, and even an entire jet warplane.

War Museum - main entry exterior.

War Museum - main entry hall.

War Museum - corridor adjoining main entry hall.

War Museum - entry corridor to lower display hall.

War Museum - lower display hall.

War Museum - lower display hall.

War Museum - study for Vimy War Memorial in Regeneration Hall.

War Museum - typical display in main floor gallery.

And so it was back to Vancouver on Saturday. A storm was supposed to blow in and start snowing, and it hit while I was waiting to board the plane. We had to de-ice before taking off, while gangs of snowplows roamed the runways clearing off the falling snow.

Gangs of snowplows clearing the runways as I wait to board my return flight on Saturday.

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