Vernissage of the Exhibition: National Capital Commission Official Residences Crown Collection
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Rideau Hall, Friday, December 10, 2010
Let me begin by welcoming you to Rideau Hall, an ideal venue for this exhibition of artwork and objects from the Crown Collection.
I am honoured to be part of this vernissage today. As you know, my wife, Sharon, and I have recently taken up residence in this wonderful house. One of our great pleasures is being surrounded by so many outstanding examples of Canadian artwork, furniture and craftsmanship, many of which belong to the Crown Collection.
My predecessor, Vincent Massey, often spoke of the ability of Rideau Hall to act as “an instrument for Canada.” Since my installation, I have seen first-hand how this building functions as a living symbol of our country.
Rideau Hall is more than an emblem of the office of governor general. It is a physical manifestation of our shared experience as Canadians. Walking through its rooms and hallways is like walking through the regions of Canada and its history. And, as with any house, the artworks and furnishings found inside tell us much about its owners and inhabitants.
I have seen for myself the delight that these works inspire in visitors to Rideau Hall. We react to the beauty of these objects and to the craftsmanship behind them. And we respond to what they represent: our common heritage.
This is Canada’s house, and we are truly fortunate to host such an abundance of treasures from the Crown Collection.
Within the space of a single room, this exhibition offers us a glimpse of the wonderful range and diversity of the entire Crown Collection. I am delighted to invite all Canadians and visitors to Canada to see this exhibition, and to learn more about our history, our culture, and the jewels of the Collection.
I want to thank all those who have contributed to creating, acquiring and managing this unique collection on behalf of all Canadians.
This occasion provides us with an opportunity to salute the artists and artisans who created these pieces. Artists such as Emily Carr, whose 1932 oil painting of a forest in British Columbia is featured in this exhibition. Carr’s painting is part of a body of work that helped to define Canada as a unique and independent nation, worthy of its own art and demanding its own expression.
Each of the artworks and objects in this exhibition has been likewise chosen for the significance of its history or origins. The same can be said of the Crown Collection as a whole.
After you’ve had a chance to view the exhibition today, I invite you to take the opportunity to tour the residence. Our guides will focus on pieces from the Crown Collection that are on display throughout the house.
I also want to take a moment to acknowledge the work of the artistic and heritage institutions responsible for creating and maintaining this collection. The National Capital Commission, which manages the Crown Collection and distributes works among the official residences in this region, deserves our sincere thanks for its careful stewardship of our heritage.
And, certainly not least, let us extend our deepest gratitude to the donors who have generously contributed to this collection by various means over the years. Many have donated through the Canadiana Fund, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
On behalf of all Canadians, thank you for making the Crown Collection what it is today.