The Next Step
A swath of calming white marble and teak with white nosing, gold-coloured treads, and a cross-hatched handrail, the staircase leading from the main entrance of the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) up to the second floor can’t help catching the eye.
The staircase is one of a few elements salvaged when the Firestone home at 375 Minto Place in Rockcliffe was demolished in 2007. Named Belmanor, the home of art enthusiasts Isobel and O.J. Firestone was covered with Canadian art collected over three decades, including numerous works from the Group of Seven. The house even had a Jackson Room — named for A.Y., who celebrated his 80th birthday at Belmanor in 1962.
Anchoring the lobby of the new six-floor 55,000-square-foot OAG, the staircase can be seen as a work of art in itself. And it’s emblematic of Belmanor, around which the entire aesthetic of the OAG’s renovation and expansion is based. This piece of Ottawa heritage carries you right into the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, a collection composed of 1,600 paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures from across the country. – Fateema Sayani