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Audain Museum plans double in size

Art museum to potentially become the second largest in B.C.

Philanthropist and art collector Michael Audain announced Tuesday morning that the initial plans for his sprawling Whistler art museum have doubled in size.

The original building, to be located between parking day lots three and four in the village, was slated to be 27,000 sq. ft. In recent weeks, Audain and the architects at Vancouver's Patkau Architect firm realized that wouldn't be large enough and have since expanded the plans to 56,000 sq. ft.

“We realized that we would outgrow the smaller version within a decade and concluded that to expand the structure in the future would be so expensive that it just would not make sense,” explained Audain, chairman of the Audain Art Museum. “We wanted to do it right from the outset, so we went back to the drawing board and revised the plan. The museum’s exhibition galleries will now exceed 20,000 square feet, over half the area of those in the Vancouver Art Gallery. The expansion will allow us to host larger temporary exhibitions from the world’s great museums.”

The Audain Foundation will present the new plans to Whistler council Tuesday night. If approved, the museum will be the second largest in B.C., behind the Vancouver Art Gallery. Construction is set to begin in July with hopes of opening in early 2015.

Last October, council agreed to lease the municipal land to the foundation for 199 years. Audain's family foundation is funding the construction, estimated to be around $30 million.