The National Gallery of Canada is home to a significant collection of national and international art from across the ages. The gallery houses over 30,000 works of art and is the perfect place to learn about Canada’s rich artistic heritage, from the carvings of the First Peoples to the nation’s latest contemporary arts.
Enter the gallery and walk through the light-filled Colonnade to the Great Hall where soaring windows perfectly frame Parliament Hill and the Ottawa River. At 141 feet (43 meters) high, the building pays homage to the Victorian Gothic Revival of the Parliamentary Library.
The gallery is divided into multiple collection areas. The first features Canadian paintings, objects and artifacts from the 18th century, while the Indigenous galleries include totem poles and Inuit stone carvings. View 17th-century paintings from masters such as Rubens and van Dyck in the European Collection. Admire the sculptures throughout the gallery with works from the second century to the present day. Wander through installation works and video art in the Contemporary Art galleries. See an impressive range of religious prints and drawings that date back to the 15th century.
The National Gallery’s design is a masterpiece in itself. The glass-and-granite building with its angular towers celebrates the city’s position as the capital of the country. The landscaping in the Taiga Garden is based on the painting Terre Sauvage by A. Y. Jackson, one of the Group of Seven, famous Canadian artists whose paintings broke from European traditions, defining a new distinctly Canadian identity.
Enjoy lunch at the Café l’Entrée or dine under the glass rotunda in the Cafétéria des Beaux-Arts to enjoy views of the Ottawa River. Then stock up on books on Canadian art at the excellent gift shop.
Gallery opening hours vary, so check in advance. Free general admissions are on Thursday evenings and some national celebratory days during the year. The gallery is easily accessible from downtown Ottawa. It is walking distance to the ByWard Market, Parliament Hill and Château Laurier. There is on-site parking available for a fee.