Clifford Pearson: What was your relationship to your father and this project?
David Thomson: My father and I were very close. We both pursued art. It was an extension of our relationship. Frank and my father really connected on this project. The intensity of feeling between them was remarkable and is reflected, I think, in the spaces Frank created for the art. This was the special outcome of this project. Frank’s relationship with my father allowed him to take more risks. The two of them talked about hockey, dogs, art, architecture, everything.
CP: What were the different strategies used in installing the art?
DT: With the Canadian collection we focused on the artists, seeing it as a series of rooms with individual identities. We wanted to encourage a direct encounter with the art, no didactics or long explanations. With the European collection, we created some clusters—of miniatures, medieval ivories, and madonnas. But we also brought together blocks of work to get some interesting juxtapositions. We tried to create a rhythm—sometimes centered on a material, sometimes a type of object. The challenge was making sense of these objects to a large audience.
CP: You have said that getting the flow right was important.
DT: Yes. I love the way Frank moves you from a large space to a small one, then back to a large one. And there’s a lightness here that makes being in the galleries so lovely. The views to the park, the sense of scale, and the light all work together. Frank plays form and chaos off each other to get just the right balance.