National Art Gallery in Ottawa : Things to Know

The National Art Gallery in Ottawa is one of the world’s most renowned galleries. It is a premier art institute showing some of Ottawa’s extensive international and Canadian art.

It is situated in the breathtaking building of Sussex Drive(Sussex Drive is an arterial road in Ottawa). The national gallery overlooks the scenic beauty of the Ottawa River and attracts tourists from around the globe. The windows from the museum also capture parliament hill.

If you are planning a trip to visit the Canada National Gallery, there are some things you must keep in mind. This article will be a complete guide on how things should be done to make your national gallery trip memorable and hassle-free.

national gallery ottawa
Photo by National Gallery of Canada
  • Hours – The gallery’s operating hours may vary from day to day. So verifying and checking the official website before the visit is always advisable. The best thing to do is to call ahead to check the booking and confirm the opening timing.
  • Admissions and entry – Visitors are usually charged an admission fee. However, these rates are reduced for school and University students, seniors, and children. 
  • Website and information – A lot of knowledge about the museum, gallery, and artists can be obtained from their official website. It holds all sought information about its current exhibition space, special events, and programs offered during your visit.
  • Management – Jean-Francois Belisle has been the head of the national gallery for five years, replacing Angela Cassie, the interim director and CEO since 2022. according to the Cbc news release, four senior staff members, including angela cassie, were abruptly let go after a year of public criticism and staff turmoil.
national gallery ottawa
Photo by Arno Ryser on Unsplash

2. A Diverse Collection of Art and Paintings.

The gallery is further divided into many galleries representing different histories and places.

The foot line museum building is around 46,621 square meters, with 12,400 square meters of space solely used for exhibiting art. This makes the structure one of the largest art museums in Canada and North America.  It provides a complete package to anyone who pays a visit to it. Having around 40,000 pieces by 6,000 artists, it immerses its visitor in contemporary and historical artworks, sculptures, and images. It receives around 385,576 visitors annually (according to stats for FY 17-18).

2.1 Indigenous and Canadian Galleries

This gallery showcases some of the best art regarding Canada’s rich history. From early indigenous art to contemporary works, it has it all. Some iconic pieces about it include pieces from artists like Emily Carr, Tom Thomson, and the Group of Seven.

national gallery ottawa
Photo by National Gallery of Canada

2.2 Contemporary, European, and American Galleries

Displaying some of the best works of Monet, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Rubens, Picasso, and Warhol, the national gallery represents European and American history at its greatest.

The national gallery holds some of Canadian and International artists’ best and most vibrant contemporary art. These cutting-edge installations and multimedia collections are treated and loved by visitors and sometimes serve as the main attraction.

The national gallery also hosts some temporary Exhibitions regularly with specific themes and art movements. The best thing to do is check the temporary exhibit held on the day of the visit so you can take advantage of everything.

The national gallery is home to around 40,000 pieces and collections by over 6000 artists. However, there are some must-sees and highlights that visitors must view. Some of them are

3.1 Voice of Fire by Barnett Newman

One of the most iconic abstract paintings that consist of vertical bands of red, white, and blue, making it a symbol of Canadian art

3.2 The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West

This painting has historical significance, depicting the death of a British general during the battle of Quebec in 1759.

3.3 Maman by Louise Bourgeois

It is an iconic sculpture of a Colossal spider that has become a symbolic piece of public art in recent years.

Photo by National Gallery of Canada

3.4 The Jack Pine by Tom Thomson

It is a quintessential Canadian landscape painting that shows the beauty of the Canadian Wilderness.

3.5 The Group of Seven by Emily Carr 

It is one of the most iconic paintings inspired by the west coast landscape. It depicts the trees and the forest of british columbia and its coastal horizons. The National Gallery holds one of her largest collections.

3.6 Sunrise on the Saguenay by Lucius R.O’Brien

This painting portrays a site 55 km from the Saguenay River, where it connects with St Lawrence at Tadoussac.

3.7 Negro Woman and Two Children by Henrietta Shore 

Henrietta Shore established a reputation as a promising painter from a young age. Some of her works have been shown alongside Georgia O’Keeffe. Although she died in obscurity, her work later gained the recognition it deserved. 

3.8 Rollande by Prudence Heward 

She was born into a family of artists and was known for her figure paintings. She is one of the small set of female painters who were active during the war. 

3.9 Infinite Cycle by Daphne Odjig 

 This painting portrays the funeral of Odijig’s first husband, where the family members are shown in black. The white creatures are ancestral spirits. 

3.10 Hope I by Gustav Klimt 

This painting was controversial during early times, depicting pregnancy with darker undertones in the background. 

3.11 Cape Dorset Freezer by Annie Pootoogook 

This painting by Annie Pootoogook, a Canadian Inuk artist, depicts a co-op store in Cape Dorset. A community Hub that acts as a place for providing essential supplies and services to the remote regions of northern communities. 

3.12 Pavane by Jean Paul Riopelle

Jean-Paul Riopelle is one of the most profound artists in Canada. Some of his great and most admirable works, including Pavane, are present in the national gallery. This painting is named after a ceremonial slow dance performed in the Spanish court during the 16th century.

The Canada national gallery has several architectural interiors: 

  1. The Canadian art space is constructed within the walls to give the space an 18-19th-century environment.
  2. The Croscup Room is the main parlor of the hall-croscup house in Nova Scotia. These scenic murals are painted by an unknown artist with oil and graphite on plaster. They are set within a wooden architecture framework decorated in stimulated marble and fine wood gains.
  3. The Rideau Street Chapel is a part of the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, a boarding school in Ottawa. The Sisters of Charity run it. 

5. Additional amenities and services

After having an energetic and wholesome day at the gallery, the national gallery provides some amenities and services to make the trip complete and fruitful. Some of these are –

  • Dining – The national gallery provides a lot of options to dine from. It has cafes and restaurants from which visitors can enjoy refreshments and meals.
  • Gift Shop – Nothing is better than getting your loved ones a gift from this memorable trip. The national gallery gift features a wide range of art-related merchandise, including books, prints, jewelry, and unique gifts.
  • Guided Tours and Audio Guides – Guided tours are led by well-informed gallery staff to better understand artwork and paintings. Audio guides are also available in multiple languages for ultimate comfort and complete understanding.
  • Events and Programs – There is always some event or program at the national gallery programmed to entertain particular visitors. It organizes lectures, workshops, and educational programs for different age groups and interests.
National Gallery of Canada Official Website Screenshot
National Gallery of Canada Official Website Screenshot

While viewing and touring the galleries, some things need to be kept in mind:

  • Photographs – The gallery generally allows photographs to be taken by visitors. However, there are some restrictions on temporary exhibitions. So checking with the staff or referring to signage is recommended before clicking pictures.
  • Accessibility – The national gallery has great facilities and is accessible to visitors with disabilities. It offers wheelchair ramps, elevators, and easily accessible washrooms.
  • Visitors Guidelines – Following the visitor’s guidelines is always recommended. It includes all the required details on behaving in the galleries, like refraining from touching the arts. Speaking softly and respecting other spaces and visitors.

Lastly, checking the National Gallery of Canada’s official online website is necessary. They have the latest and the most up-to-date information, such as dates, drawings on display, and art exhibitions. This National Gallery is one of the main attractions in Ottawa, Canada, attracting art lovers worldwide. Enjoy your mesmerizing journey of arts through the National Gallery of Canada.

Samprity Mondal
an traveller and a researcher who loves exploring beautifull breathtaking places like Canada . with a bachelor degree in business admistration , Sanprity Mondal has a work experience of 18 months . some love interest include roaming and reading