Local Photo Credit: Candice Popik

5 Must-Visit Museums Across the West

Our five favourite compact museums in North America.

The Louvre is great if you have a week on your hands, but there’s a growing feeling that, when it comes to museums, small is beautiful. These five spots may not have a dozen Rembrandts lined up in a row, but they also don’t have a legion of tour buses parked out front or galleries so packed that quiet contemplation is out of the question. And unlike their cultural behemoth brethren, they’re digestible even if you only have a few hours.

Photo: Patkau Architects

1. Audain Art Museum—Whistler
This Patkau-designed space in Whistler opens in late November, and in many ways it’s the opposite of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s (proposed) splashy new building: focused (B.C. art is king), manageable and low-key.

Photo: Rennie Collection

2. Rennie Collection at Wing Sang—Vancouver
Condo king Bob Rennie has one of Canada’s great contemporary collections, and he draws upon it liberally for shows in his restored Chinatown gallery. (The Glenn Brown show last year was superlative.) And contrary to popular opinion, it’s not private—you just need to book in advance.

Photo: Raul Garcia/Clyfford Still Museum

3. Clyfford Still Museum—Denver
Still, who spent his childhood in Bow Island, Alberta, was perhaps the most iconoclastic of the Abstract Expressionists—in his later years, only selling enough of his paintings (one of which sold in 2011 for $61,700,000) to keep himself supplied with canvas and paint. The vast majority of his work is housed in this beautiful gallery designed by Allied Works Architecture.

Photo: Debbie Williamson-Smith

4. Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art—Eugene
Imagine you’re an oligarch who’s just nabbed a high-priced painting at auction—now what? Increasingly, you send it to the no-sales-tax haven of Oregon to hang for a while and thus dodge a huge tax hit. The Schnitzer is currently enjoying visits of canvases by Modigliani, Warhol and Ruscha in this easygoing gallery.

Photo: Candice Popik

5. Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum—Grande Prairie
Modern design meets an ancient subject matter in this striking facility on 10 acres just outside Grande Prairie. The isolation is part of the draw—this is fertile ground for fossils, and its location makes for focused visits.

 

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