National Gallery brings pop-up Impressionist Treasures exhibit to Constitution Square

Creative and engaging display to remain all summer in lobby of downtown Ottawa office complex

The idea of entering a towering office building, only to be swept away to the charming French countryside, is no longer the stuff of silly daydreams.

One of Ottawa’s largest downtown office complexes, Constitution Square, now features in its main lobby a special pop-up exhibition promoting the National Gallery of Canada’s Impressionist Treasures summer exhibit, with a romantic landscape setting. 

Mayor Jim Watson did the honours at a ribbon-cutting ceremony that took place during Tuesday afternoon's vernissage, attended by officials from the gallery and from property manager Canderel.

“We’re committed to supporting the arts and to contributing to the vibrancy of Canadian communities,” Nicola Powadiuk, director of exhibitions for Canderel, said in her welcome remarks.

Canderel, with Canstone and majority owner Greystone, purchased the complex at 340, 350 and 360 Albert St. last year for $480 million. It was the largest commercial real estate deal in Ottawa’s history.

pop up vernissage
From left, Erika Dolphin with Peter Rychlik, general manager at Canderel, Mayor Jim Watson, National Gallery deputy director Jean-François Bilodeau and Nicola Powadiuk at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Impressionist Treasures pop-up exhibit, at the Constitution Square downtown office complex. Photo by Caroline Phillips 

The famous voice of French chanteuse Edith Piaf filled the lobby while chic-looking cruiser tables were adorned with vase-filled red roses and a sprinkling of petals. 

The National Gallery’s Jean-François Bilodeau described the pop up as an “aperitif” for the main exhibit now showing at the gallery.

“Here, at Constitution Square, we invite you to relax and to recharge in this tranquil space. After all, where else you can you walk right into a painting,” said Bilodeau, who's the gallery's deputy director of advancement and public education.

Guests heard details about the Impressionist Treasures exhibit from the gallery's organizing curator Erika Dolphin. The landmark show is the first and only presentation in North America of the paintings from the world-renowned Ordrupgaard collection.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a collection normally housed in the outskirts of Copenhagen,” said Dolphin.

pop up vernissage
Esther van 't Veen, from the Embassy of the Netherlands in Ottawa, at the opening of the new pop-up exhibit of Impressionist Treasures, located in the lobby of Constitution Square, a downtown Ottawa office complex. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Some 3,000 people work at Constitution Square. Having these kinds of pop-up exhibits, Powadiuk told OBJ.Social, “adds something creative, something different, something engaging, and develops a sense of community”. Canderel previously partnered with the Canadian Museum of Nature to come up with something similar to promote the museum's Butterflies in Flight exhibit.

As part of the artistic display, there’s a fun interactive quiz with random questions to help participants determine which Impressionist artwork most suits them.

There will be local artists demonstrating different art techniques at Constitution Square, from noon until 1 p.m., on Thursday July 12, 19 and 26.

As well, the pop up is very "selfie friendly".

pop up vernissage
From left, Canada Aviation and Space Museum general director Chris Kitzan with Nicola Powadiuk and John Swettenham, director of marketing at the Canadian Museum of Nature, at the opening of the new Impressionist Treasures pop-up exhibit, at the Constitution Square downtown office complex. Photo by Caroline Phillips