The Vaults

25 September 2014

The Vaults: Art from the MacKenzie Art Gallery and the University of Regina Collections
edited by Timothy Long and Dr. Stephen King
Published by University of Regina Press
Review by Keith Foster
$39.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-289-2

Opening The Vaults is like cracking open a safe, revealing the cultural treasures stored in the collections of the MacKenzie Art Gallery and the University of Regina. This visually inspiring coffee table book explores only a fraction of the more than 4,500 works of art.

The core of this collection originated when prominent Regina lawyer Norman MacKenzie started amassing art by European and Asian masters, along with emerging Canadian artists such as Inglis Sheldon-Williams.

When MacKenzie began building his collection, art was not greatly appreciated in Regina. People thought he was foolish to spend his money this way. He lamented that it would be easier to sell 200 automobiles than to give away oil paintings.

MacKenzie had to rebuild his collection after a tornado in 1912 virtually wiped out the pieces he had accumulated. One painting, ironically titled Storm at Sea, survived the storm and is reproduced in this lavishly illustrated book.

When he died in 1936, MacKenzie bequeathed his collection of artwork and antiquities to the University of Saskatchewan, along with a portion of his estate to build an art gallery in Regina to display his collection.

The heavy task of selecting material for this book from the thousands of pieces fell to Timothy Long, curator of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, and University of Regina alumnus Dr. Stephen King. Both provided the accompanying text, and University of Regina President Dr. Vianne Timmons wrote the foreword. The artwork is exquisitely reproduced in Don Hall’s photography.

MacKenzie’s dream of sharing his artwork lives on in this coffee table book and in the art gallery named in his honour.


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