A great way to absorb a city’s culture is through its museums. Here we’ve outlined the top 10 art galleries for you to visit in Canada. From smaller provincial museums to National Galleries, this list has all the best art that Canada has to offer.
Created in 1959, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is one of Canada’s youngest major art galleries. The gallery has an excellent collection of British art, with notable works from J.M.W Turner, John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough in their permanent collection. But the gallery also has more modern works as well, such as three works by the 20th century’s Salvador Dali.
The Musee d’art contemporain is a contemporary art museum in Montreal. Part of the Place des Arts complex, the Musee was Canada’s first museum devoted solely to contemporary art. Its location in the nearby Quartiers des Spectacles gives the complex a creative and exciting atmosphere. The museum’s collection contains over 7,000 works and reflects significant trends in Canadian contemporary art.
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is the largest art museum in Atlantic Canada and has an extensive collection of Canadian art. The permanent collection includes works by the Group of Seven, Joshua Reynolds and Maud Lewis. The gallery has also recently purchased more modern works, including an iconic photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Dedicated solely to contemporary art, the Power Plant is one of Canada’s most innovative art galleries. In addition to featuring art from artists such as Leslie Hewitt, Mike Kelley and Amalia Pica, the Power Plant also hosts educational programs and events for the public. The Power Plant is also a non-collecting public gallery, making itself an important pillar of art and education for the general public. Located in the Harbourfront Center of Toronto, the Power Plant is surrounded by other institutions that promote the arts, literature and music.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto Canada, is a museum and art gallery that focuses contemporary art and art education. The museum does not contain a permanent collection, but instead houses about 400 works at a time from more than 150 Canadian artists. The MOCA makes a great trip for any lover of modern contemporary art.
Located in downtown Edmonton, the Art Gallery of Alberta is housed in a unique Brutalist building that includes a restaurant, gallery shop and 150 seat theater. The museum is best known for their collection of paintings by Tom Thomson, but the permanent collection includes some of the best art in Canada.
The largest art gallery in Western Canada and the fifth largest in the country, the Vancouver Art Gallery is a major institution of Canadian art. The permanent collection features more than 11,000 works and has major pieces from Canadian artists such as Emily Carr and the Group of Seven. In addition to their artwork, the gallery has a library, gift shop, and centres for public programmes and lectures. The museum is housed in an old former courthouse, giving the museum a neoclassical architectural home. The building was named a National Historic Site of Canada in 1980.
The National Gallery of Canada is one of Canada’s premier art galleries. The gallery is housed in a granite and glass building with a view of the Canadian Parliament buildings on Parliament Hill. The permanent collection contains some of Canada’s best-known works such as The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West. The gallery also has many note-worthy public sculptures on the museum grounds such as Louise Bourgeois’s Maman, a giant sculpture of a spider.
While probably best known for their 1972 unsolved art heist, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts continues to be one of Canada’s most prominent and prestigious art galleries. The permanent collection contains more than 44,000 works and includes pieces from Peter Paul Rubens, Delacroix and other European old masters. The museum is also known for its reading room and accompanying library which is the oldest art library in Canada.
The Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest art galleries in North America and the second most visited museum in Canada. The museum has significant collections in Canadian art, and European art stemming from the Renaissance to the Baroque. Some of the artists featured include Rembrandt, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso and Monet. In addition to their permanent collections, the museum also has a major library, spaces for students, an artist-in-residence, a restaurant, café, espresso bar and threatre and lecture hall. The Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the most prestigious museums in Canada and should be on any Canadian art lover’s bucket list.
Whether you want to view works of the European old masters, or peruse the newest contemporary art, these museums have everything you need for a great trip. Book your next trip through Expedia and discover Canada’s great artistic culture.