National Gallery of Canada

From Academic Kids

Missing image
National Gallery of Canada on Canada Day.

The National Gallery of Canada is one of Canada's premier art galleries. It is located in the capital city, Ottawa, Ontario.

The Gallery is housed in a purpose built glass and granite building on Sussex Drive next to the old Canadian War Museum building. The acclaimed structure was designed by Moshe Safdie and opened in 1988.

The Gallery has a large and varied collection. Its focus is on Canadian art, but it holds works by many noted artists. It has a strong contemporary art collection with some of Andy Warhol's most famous works. 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.

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

The Gallery is also often home to travelling shows from around the world. It also organizes its own exhibits which travel across Canada and often beyond.

The Gallery's collection has been built up through acquisitions, especially of Canadian art. Much of the collection was donated, most notable are Lord Beaverbrook's substantial donation and that of the Southam family.

The National Gallery of Canada with sculpture in foreground
The National Gallery of Canada with sculpture in foreground
View of Sussex Drive with the National Gallery at left
View of Sussex Drive with the National Gallery at left


The Gallery was first formed in 1880 by Canada's Governor General and, in 1882, moved into its first home on Parliament Hill in the same building as the Supreme Court. 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. In 1962 the Gallery moved to a rather nondescript office building on Cartier Square (today the British High Commission). It moved into its current building in 1988. In the 1990s the Gallery's photography collection was moved to the new Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, which remains affiliated with the Gallery, and is located next to the Château Laurier.

Noted works

The largest work in the Gallery is the entire interior of the Rideau Street Chapel, the ornate chapel of a demolished girls' school.

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