Audain Art Museum

October 06, 2014 13:30 ET

Canada's Finest E.J. Hughes Collection to be Housed in Whistler Museum

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Oct. 6, 2014) -

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At a news gathering held at the Vancouver home of art collectors Jacques Barbeau and Marguerite Owen, it was revealed that the couple has offered the Audain Art Museum "the best 15 paintings" from their collection of 80 original works by the late B.C. artist E.J. Hughes. These paintings, along with four Hughes paintings in Michael Audain's own collection, will combine to make a permenant display in a space to be named the Barbeau-Owen Gallery.

Selecting the most important paintings was no easy task. The Audain Art Museum called on expert Ian Thom, curator of the Hughes exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2009 and author of a book and several essays on Hughes, to make the selection.

"Without critical or sales success during much of his career, E.J. Hughes painted B.C.'s coastline in a superb, colourful realism for seven decades before he died in 2007. He is among B.C.'s elite artists," says Thom, Senior Curator, Historical, Vancouver Art Gallery. "With the contribution of the Barbeau-Owen pictures, the Audain Art Museum will definitely house the best E.J. Hughes collection in Canada and, in fact, the world."

Barbeau was stopped in his tracks when he saw a colour illustration of the B.C. coastline on the cover of a BC Telephone directory in the 1950s. "It was fantastic. I discovered it was a B.C. artist by the name of Edward Hughes," says Barbeau. "I bought my first original from Montreal's Dominion Gallery in 1964. $400 was a lot of money in those days, but I never regretted it." He kept buying Hughes' works throughout his working life, and in the 1980s Barbeau and Hughes became friends.

"E.J. repeatedly suggested to me that many of his works should be in a museum some day," says Barbeau. "Having these 15 paintings on permanent display in the Audain Art Museam makes me very happy we've been able to fulfill his wish."

The Audain Art Museum, now under construction, is expected to open to the public in late 2015.


The Audain Art Museum will be located on Blackcomb Way adjacent to Whistler Village. The building will be constructed to LEED Gold standards with sophisticated environmental and security systems which will allow it to accommodate exhibitions from the National Gallery of Canada and other major art museums.

Designed by Patkau Architects, the Audain Art Museum will be a discreet contemporary building in a large forested setting in Whistler.

At 56,000 square feet, the Audain Art Museum will be British Columbia's largest purpose-built art museum. The museum will house a large portion of the personal art collection that Audain and his wife Yoshiko Karasawa have amassed over the past 50 years. Their world-class B.C. art collection will be on permenant display, plus galleries with temporary exhibitions of Canadian and international art. It will be an attraction for Whistler's 10,000 residents and 2.3 million annual visitors to the four-season resort.

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