3 Things You Might Not Know About The MacLaren Art Centre
The MacLaren art centre is a fixture of the Barrie arts scene. The gallery presents dozens of unique exhibitions and art works and regularly hosts events adding to the cultural fabric of the city. Moreover, it’s a fantastic venue for weddings and fundraisers, and boasts one of the city’s best cafes.
Moreover, as they have had to close their doors to help fight the spread of Covid, it’s a good time to look back on the centre’s history and uncover a few things you might not have known…
It Used To Be Barrie’s Main Library
The MacLaren is actually comprised of two buildings. Combining the contemporary facility on Mulcaster street and the older structure on Collier street. Known as the Carneige room, it was the city’s library for over 75 years. The establishment got it’s moniker thanks to a $15,000 grant provided to the city in 1915 by Andrew Carneige, the American steel magnate. He was offering grants to communities across North America at the time, to build new libraries.
Eventually, in 2001, the MacLaren moved from their Toronto St location into the old library building.
It’s Named After a Local Businessman
In light of the history of the building, you might think the museum has been around for a long time. In fact, the MacLaren got it’s start as the Barrie Gallery Project, in 1986. By the same token, they opened a storefront gallery on Mulcaster street just a few doors down from the current location.
In 1989, a local businessman Maurice MacLaren left his collection and home at 147 Toronto Street to the City of Barrie and the Barrie Gallery Project, giving the Gallery a permanent home. In honour of his bequest, the Gallery was named the MacLaren Art Centre in 1990.
The Spirit Catcher Is One Of It’s Exhibits
Synonymous with the city and the waterfront, the Spirit Catcher is the first permanent exhibit of the MacLaren. Although artist Ron Baird created the sculpture for Vancouver’s Expo ’86, it found it’s way to Barrie in 1987. Following Expo, the sculpture was purchased by the Helen McCrea Peacock Foundation and donated to the Barrie Gallery Project. It then entered the gallery’s permanent collection. Furthermore, the MacLaren maintains the Spirit Catcher and undertakes annual inspections to ensure it’s preservation.
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