From the Director
Welcome to the National Gallery of Canada.
Whether you are keen to view an original Tom Thomson wilderness sketch, to explore inventive Inuit sculpture or major works by the old European masters, or to experience arresting works in every medium by internationally renowned contemporary artists—Canadian or otherwise—you are sure to find something here that will engage, surprise, challenge and affect you.
The National Gallery of Canada is proud to be the permanent home of the world’s most comprehensive collection of Canadian art. Our growing collection of Indigenous Art features wonderful works by Canadian icons such as Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, Rebecca Belmore, Carl Beam and Brian Jungen. Our entire collection consists of nearly 40,000 works of art. It features international collections of the highest caliber, including strong holdings in International Art, with paintings, sculptures and decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the present. Our Prints and Drawings collection is particularly impressive, made up of about 13,300 Canadian and European prints and 8,450 drawings that are available for research and viewing. Our Photographs Collection ranks among the top photography collections in the world. International in scope, with close to 19,000 photographs, it includes many important historical photography by the medium’s pioneers from its medium’s inception in the early part of the 19th Century and right up to the present day.
Unusual among national galleries in collecting the art of today, the Contemporary Collection is the beating heart of the National Gallery of Canada. Engaging with living artists from around the world, the contemporary collection numbering over 3,000 works of art represents recent and cutting-edge trends on the Canadian and international scenes.
The acquisition of works of art for the collection by purchase and by gift averages over 300 per year, including the addition of masterpieces such as Louise Bourgeois’ monumental sculpture Maman, an instant favorite landmark in the heart of the nation’s capital.
Even when you can’t be here at the Gallery, you can freely tour our collections through our dynamic, comprehensive web site. Simply click on the online floor plan to design your own walk-through the galleries and see what is currently on display.
We also create a diverse program of travelling exhibitions every year in order to bring our collections to audiences across Canada. In collaboration with great museums around the world, we have mounted major retrospectives of Degas, Klimt, Daumier, as well as Karsh, Renoir, Picasso, Edward Burtynsky and Betty Goodwin, to name a few. We have sent vastly popular installations such as Janet Cardiff’s Forty-Part Motet on extensive North American tours. Click here for a list of current and upcoming traveling exhibitions. Be sure not to miss the exhibitions and works from the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography currently housed at the Gallery.
Inspired by the collection and exhibitions, our education programs bring art to life. Geared to audiences of all ages, they respond to a wide range of visitor interests, abilities, needs, and learning styles. From pre-schoolers to seniors, art novices to art experts, from families to individuals looking for a fun night out, there's something for everyone.
To visit the Gallery, to enter the doors past Louise Bourgeois’ stunning bronze spider Maman on our front plaza, is to immerse yourself in the ever-evolving history of art and the continuum of artistic endeavor, and to surround yourself with art, the most remarkable results of a fundamental human activity from long ago to the present. Visit soon, and visit often. Our permanent galleries are updated regularly. There is always a new portrait with which to engage, a favorite landscape to revisit, an unexpected installation in which to briefly lose yourself.
Director, National Gallery of Canada