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New art museum to expand cultural horizons at Simon Fraser University and beyond

August 02, 2023

Construction is set to begin on the Lower Mainland’s newest art museum, which will transform the cultural landscape at Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby campus.

Opening in 2025, the Marianne and Edward Gibson Art Museum will offer a stunning 12,000 square foot space that will provide free exhibits and programming for SFU and neighbouring communities.
“The Marianne and Edward Gibson Art Museum will support our academic mission and enrich the experience of SFU students, faculty and staff while also acting as a vibrant community hub that attracts art lovers from far and wide,” says SFU president Joy Johnson.
“Our sincere thanks to Marianne Gibson and the Gibson Family Trust for making this new space possible. We are proud to honour Edward Gibson’s legacy and passion for sharing art in an inclusive, accessible way.”

Ground broke on the new site on Aug. 1 during an Indigenous-led ceremony, recognizing an incredible donation from Marianne Gibson and generous contributions of $1 million or more from the Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation, the Tuey Charitable Foundation and an anonymous donation in honour of SFU president emeritus Andrew Petter.

Edward and Marianne Gibson

Marianne and her late husband, Dr. Edward Gibson, shared a belief in art’s capacity to ignite curiosity and build more inclusive communities. They have a deep connection to SFU — Dr. Gibson joined SFU as a charter faculty member in 1965 and was director of SFU Gallery from 1986 to 1997 — and a passion for education and the arts, especially the art of British Columbia.
“Seeing Edward’s unique vision for art, learning and community at SFU finally being realized is profoundly meaningful,” says Marianne Gibson. “Art was a large part of our life together—whether we were encountering art locally or while traveling, collecting pieces ourselves, or teaching about and through art, as Edward did.”
“Art reflects the world, sparks connection and meaning, and of course, community. I’m filled with excitement for all this museum will bring to our wonderful community, and recognize the immense collaboration, enthusiasm and generosity of everyone involved to make it happen.”

Relaxed and informal in its design, the museum—affectionately known as the Gibson—will replace the current SFU Gallery on Burnaby campus, providing vastly improved public access to SFU’s Art Collection. It will also be home to a range of new artist-led learning and community engagement offerings, such as artist residencies, hands-on sessions for university and K-12 students, and weekend family programs. An expansive indoor common area will further accommodate performances, readings, screenings and other community-focused events.

“What makes Edward and Marianne Gibson’s vision so extraordinary is that it inspires an entirely new kind of visual arts facility,” said SFU Galleries Director Kimberly Phillips. “As a result, we are committed to creating a space that will extend the ways we support artists, strengthen the arts ecology of our region, and manifestly reimagine what an art museum can do, and for whom it exists.”
The ground awakening ceremony was performed by Gabriel George, of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.
In Indigenous culture, it’s important to let the spirits of the land and place know what is going to happen prior to disturbing the earth. The ceremony took place at the future site of the Gibson at the SFU Burnaby campus.
SFU Galleries occupies the unceded territories of xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, Səl̓ílwətaɬ, and kʷikʷəƛ̓əm Nations. Acknowledging that the activities of SFU Galleries unfold on unceded Indigenous territories is both a recognition that settler colonialism is an ongoing structure and a commitment to support the capacity of art to unsettle these conditions and illuminate the truth so we can chart a path to Reconciliation.
Located immediately adjacent to Burnaby Mountain’s main transit hub and just steps from the new First People’s Gathering House, Trottier Observatory and the anticipated Burnaby Mountain Gondola, the Gibson will truly become a dynamic community and cultural hub at SFU.
For more information on the Marianne and Edward Gibson Art Museum, please visit: https://gibson.sfu.ca

Fast Facts

  • The Gibson has been made possible thanks to the generosity of SFU’s donors, who collectively donated over $23 million to this project.
  • The SFU Art Collection consists of over 5,800 modern and contemporary paintings, photographs, sculptures, works on paper, and large public installations.
  • The Gibson’s 12,000 square feet of galleries and program spaces include an art studio, courtyard, salon, and forum.
  • Award-winning architect Siamak Hariri of Hariri Pontarini Architects – in collaboration with Vancouver-based Iredale Architecture – designed the Gibson in recognition of Arthur Erickson and Geoffrey Massey’s original architectural vision for SFU’s Burnaby campus, which strove to foster intellectual ingenuity through horizontal, interdisciplinary connectivity.