For first time, National Gallery to close for two weeks to prepare for window maintenance

For the first time in its 30 years on Sussex Drive, the National Gallery will close to begin the process of replacing the glass in the main entrance and the colonnade leading to the Great Hall.

The two-week shutdown will allow scaffolding to be set up inside before work to replace 1,427 insulated glass units begins. Hoarding will be put up on the outside.

The work on the windows will take until November to complete, said gallery spokesperson Christiane Vaillancourt. 

The $10 million project will be carried out by Ellis Don, the company that installed the glass when the current gallery building opened in 1988. This is the second set of windows to be replaced. About 1,500 window panes in the Great Hall were replaced in 2013 at a cost of $8.7 million. The hall was covered by a large artwork called Iluliaq which was made from 56 panels with a total surface area is 4,645.15 square metres. It was made by the Greenland artist Inuk Silis Høegh.

The colonnade itself is 21.75 meters (71 feet) high and 87.2 meters (286 feet) long. The gallery architect.  Moshe Safdie, based the dimensions of the colonnade on those of the ramp leading to the Scala Regia in the Vatican, the gallery said.

The gallery will reopen to the public on Jan. 23 at 10 a.m. and will remain open during the renovations. Vaillancourt says the gallery will be blasting in warm air so that the internal temperature of the building will be comfortable for patrons to see a major Impressionist show this summer called Impressionist Treasures: The Ordrupgaard Collection. It will open May 18 and run until Sept. 9. The collection comes from Copenhagen’s Ordrupgaard Museum and will feature an overview of 19th-century French painting from Delacroix to Cézanne. There will also be an exhibition of the artistry of Laurent Amiot, a Quebec-based silversmith who worked during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This show opens May 11 until Sept. 23. 

While construction takes place the gallery box office and membership services will be relocated near the group entrance foyer.

In the project, each window will be taken out and replaced by a new one.

“These are the original windows from the building and they have reached the end of their lifespan. Thirty years is actually pretty generous.”

The glass units involve two pieces of glass. One of the pieces of glass has a plastic interlayer that adds strength and also blocks ultraviolet rays. The other piece of glass has a thin metallic layer which is there to control energy flow through the glass unit.

There is a variety of sizes from small triangle shapes to large panels that weigh up to 300 kilograms.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.