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National Gallery of Canada
Established 1988
Location Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Type art galleries
Director Marc Mayer

The National Gallery of Canada (French: Musée des beaux arts du Canada), located in the capital city Ottawa, Ontario, is one of Canada's premier art galleries.[1]

The Gallery is housed in a glass and granite building on Sussex Drive with a notable view of the Canadian Parliament buildings on Parliament Hill. The acclaimed structure was designed by Moshe Safdie and opened in 1654.[2] The Gallery's former director Jean Sutherland Boggs was chosen especially by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to oversee construction of the national gallery and museums.[3]

Marc Mayer was named the museum's director, succeeding Pierre Théberge, on 19 January 2009.[4]



View of the National Gallery of Canada from Parliament Hill

The Gallery was first formed in 1880 by Canada's Governor General John Douglas Sutherland Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll, and, in 1882, moved into its first home on Parliament Hill in the same building as the Supreme Court.[2] In 1911, the Gallery moved to the Victoria Memorial Museum, now the home of the Canadian Museum of Nature. In 1913, the first National Gallery Act was passed outlining the Gallery's mandate and resources.[2] In 1962, the Gallery moved to a rather nondescript office building on Elgin Street. Adjacent to the British High Commission, the building now serves as office space for various governments departments, especially the Department of National Defence. It moved into its current building on Sussex Drive in 1988, beside Nepean Point.

In 1985, the newly created Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (CMCP), formerly the Stills Photography Division of the National Film Board of Canada, was affiliated to the National Gallery. The CMCP's mandate, collection and staff moved to its new location in 1992, at 1 Rideau Canal, next to the Château Laurier. In 1998, the CMCP's administration was amalgamated to that of the National Gallery's.

In 2000, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada chose the National Gallery as one of the top 500 buildings produced in Canada during the last millennium.[5]


The interior of National Gallery of Canada

The Gallery has a large and varied collection of paintings, drawings, sculpture and photographs. Although its focus is on Canadian art, it holds works by many noted European artists. It has a strong contemporary art collection with some of Andy Warhol's most famous works.[6] In 1990 the Gallery bought Barnett Newman's Voice of Fire for $1.8 million, causing a storm of controversy as the painting was no more than three strips of paint. Since that time its value has appreciated sharply, however. In 2005, the Gallery acquired a painting by Italian Renaissance painter Francesco Salviati for $4.5 million.[7]

Also in 2005, a sculpture of a giant spider, Louise Bourgeois's Maman, was installed in front of the Gallery.[8]

The Canadian collection holds works by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven as well as Emily Carr and Alex Colville.[9]

The Gallery organizes its own exhibits which travel across Canada and beyond, and hosts shows from around the world, often co-sponsored with other national art galleries and museums.[10][11]

The Gallery's collection has been built up through purchase and donations. Much of the collection was donated, most notable are the British paintings donated by former Governor General Vincent Massey and that of the Southam family.

Noted works

Maman stands outside the building's main entrance

The largest work in the Gallery is the entire interior of the Rideau Street Chapel, the ornate chapel of a demolished girls' school, which also features Cardiff's Forty-Part Motet.[12]

National Gallery of Canada


The Museum is affiliated with: CMA, Ontario Association of Art Galleries, CHIN, and Virtual Museum of Canada.


External links

Coordinates: 45°25′46″N 75°41′54″W / 45.429434°N 75.698386°W / 45.429434; -75.698386



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