An artist rendering of the winning design of the new AGNS, which was slated to break ground this year on the Halifax waterfront.

Province announces new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia construction is on hold

Tim Houston announces a freeze on provincial investing in the project, causing an indefinite pause.

Tim Houston announced today that the province's plan to foot part of the bill for the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia—a project announced in 2019, slated to begin building this year on what's now a parking lot on the end of Salter Street—will be put on an indefinite hold.

The gallery (which is meant to replace the current AGNS at 1723 Hollis Street) was originally expected to cost about $137 million. But, the province says in a release that "a recent independent estimate projected a cost increase of at least $25 million, most likely significantly more, due to rising inflation and increased construction costs."

Without the province's promised $70 million investment, plans for the new space cannot go ahead. (The province, meanwhile, calls the project "paused indefinitely" in its statement.)

In February of 2022, Halifax city council voted to fund $7 million towards the gallery, instead of the $3 million recommended by city staffers.

The new gallery was planned as part of an ambitious, new cultural sector on the city's waterfront, called the Waterfront Arts District.  KPMB Architects with Omar Gandhi Architect, Jordan Bennett Studio, Elder Lorraine Whitman (NWAC), Public Work and Transsolar combined forces to create the winning design for the new gallery, which includes an entryway styled after the peaked hats traditionally worn by Mi’kmaq women.

Back when the winning design was selected—at a press conference in November 2020—co-designer Whitman took to the stage, saying: "
This is just the beginning of a new beginning; a circle, so to speak, with no beginning and no end. Just a world of opportunity."

Today's release quotes Houston as saying: "We value the arts and want to make sure there is a home for art to be shared and displayed in our province. But now is not the time."

About The Author

Morgan Mullin

Morgan is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Coast, where she writes about everything from what to see and do around Halifax to profiles of the city’s creative class to larger cultural pieces. She’s been with The Coast since 2016.

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