Ruins to Renaissance: The Rise of the MacKenzie Bequest

21 April 2012 – 14 October 2012

The 100th anniversary of the Regina Tornado is also the 100th anniversary of the MacKenzie Collection.

The story of the MacKenzie Art Gallery’s permanent collection properly begins in 1912, the year a savage tornado reduced much of Regina to rubble. Norman MacKenzie, a prosperous Regina lawyer and aspiring art collector, saw his entire collection of fine paintings destroyed in the tornado — save one, François Musin’s Marine Scene (shown in detail here), which ironically depicts a terrible storm.

Like the city around him, MacKenzie rebuilt  — collecting Italian Renaissance paintings, antiquities of Asia and the Middle East and contemporary works until his death in 1936.

It was MacKenzie’s dream to share his treasures with the people of Saskatchewan. At the time of his death, he bequeathed his collection to what is now the University of Regina with a condition that it be accessible to the public. He was, in a way, an angel investor in the cultural capital of our province.

The MacKenzie Art Gallery was named in honour of his collection and his contribution. We continue to preserve and exhibit the artwork and antiquities. It is a testament to MacKenzie’s tenacity that the tornado marked the beginning, not the end, of his activity as a collector. And it is a testament to his vision that his collection is now the cornerstone of Saskatchewan’s largest public art gallery, seen by more than 90,000 people each year.

As part of the Spiraling Forces Festival, this exhibition traces the fascinating story of how MacKenzie’s collection was rebuilt. 

And be sure to visit the Bobbie Taylor Resource Area to see fabulous archival photos of people rebuilding the city of Regina after the Tornado of 1912. (See cover image!)

Curated by: Timothy Long, Head Curator, MacKenzie Art Gallery
Download the MyMacKenzie app for more information or share your thoughts on Twitter with #MAGruins

In this collection of videos below, Head Curator, Timothy Long shares the stories behind the artworks in this fascinating exhibtiion.