Vancouver Art Gallery

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Vancouver Art Gallery
Vancouver Art Gallery Robson Square from third floor.jpg
Vancouver Art Gallery is located in Vancouver
Vancouver Art Gallery
Location in Vancouver
Established 1931
Location Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Coordinates 49°16′58″N 123°07′14″W / 49.282875°N 123.120464°W / 49.282875; -123.120464
Type art gallery
Website Vancouver Art Gallery
Official name Former Vancouver Law Courts National Historic Site of Canada
Designated 1980

The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) is the fifth-largest art gallery in Canada and the largest in Western Canada[citation needed]. It is located at 750 Hornby Street in Vancouver, British Columbia. Its permanent collection of about 10,000 artworks includes more than 200 major works by Emily Carr, the Group of Seven, Jeff Wall, and Marc Chagall.


The art gallery as seen from below Robson Street.

The Vancouver Art Gallery was founded in 1931 and had its first home at 1145 West Georgia Street. In 1983 it moved to the Hornby Street location, the former provincial courthouse. It was renovated at a cost of $20 million by architect Arthur Erickson, which completed his modern three city-block Robson Square complex. The Gallery connects to the rest of the complex via an underground passage below Robson Street to an outdoor plaza, restaurants, the University of British Columbia's downtown satellite campus, government offices, and the new Law Courts at the southern end.

The Gallery has 41,400 square feet (3,850 m2) of exhibition space and more than 10,000 works in its collection, most notably its Emily Carr collection. It has also amassed a significant collection of photographs. In addition to exhibitions of its own collection, the Gallery regularly hosts touring exhibitions. The Gallery also regularly features a variety of public programmes and lectures.

The Gallery also has a gift shop, a café, and a library.

In March 2007, the 2010 Olympic countdown clock was placed in the front lawn of the VAG. It was open for free for the public to see. The clock has since been disassembled, with one half going to BC Place and the other to Whistler Village.


Vancouver Art Gallery from Georgia Street

The VAG is located in the former main courthouse for Vancouver. The original 165,000-square-foot (15,300 m2) neoclassical building was designed by Francis Rattenbury after winning a design competition in 1905. Rattenbury also designed the British Columbia Parliament Buildings and the Empress Hotel in Victoria.

The design includes ionic columns, a central dome, formal porticos, and ornate stonework. The building was constructed using marble imported from Alaska, Tennessee, and Vermont. The new building was constructed in 1906 and replaced the previous courthouse located at Victory Square. At the time, the building contained 18 courtrooms.

An annex designed by Thomas Hooper was added to the western side of the building in 1912. The Annex Building is the only part of the VAG that was not converted to use as an art gallery. It was declared a heritage site and retains the original judges' benches and walls as they were when the building was a courthouse.

On the Georgia Street side of the building is the Centennial Fountain. This fountain was installed in 1966 to commemorate the centennial of the union of the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia.

The building was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1980.[1] Both the main and annex portions of the building are municipally designated "A" heritage structures.

The steps on both the Robson Street and Georgia Street sides of the building are popular gathering spots for protest rallies. The Georgia Street side is also a popular place in the summertime for people to relax or socialize.

Permanent collection[edit]

The Vancouver Art Gallery's collection of about 10,000 works grows by several hundred works every year. Established in 1931, it is a principal repository of works produced in this region, as well as related works by other Canadian and international artists.

The Gallery’s European historical collection includes Dutch paintings from the seventeenth century by Jan Anthoniszoon van Ravenstyn (1570-1657), Jan Wynants (1630/35-1684), Isaac van Ostade (1621-1649), Pieter Neeffs the Elder (1578-1656), Jacob Marrel (1614-1681), Jan van Huysum (1682-1749), Balthasar van der Ast (1590-1656), Ambrosium Bosschaert the Younger (1609-1645), Jan Josefsz van Goyen (1596-1665), Abraham Storck (1635-1710), Roelof de Vries (1631-c.1681), Willem van de Velde the Younger (1633-1707), Adriaen van der Kabel (1631-1705), Salomon van Ruysdael (1600-1670), Flemish-Cornelius de Heem (1631-1695), Roelandt Savery (1576-1639), and a fine first edition of Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes' Disasters of War.[2]


The Vancouver Art Gallery Library is a non-circulating collection specializing in contemporary, modern, and Canadian art. The Library holdings include more than 45,000 books and exhibition catalogues, 100 journal subscriptions, 5,000 artist files, sound recordings, slides, and auction catalogues documenting painting, sculpture, drawing, prints, photography, video, and emerging art forms. [3]


In November 2007, the gallery announced plans to move to a new building at Larwill Park, a block formerly occupied by a bus depot on the corner of Cambie and Georgia streets opposite the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The new building would have been about 30,000 square metres (320,000 sq ft), almost 10 times the current building size, and would include more gallery space for the permanent collection now in storage, a larger exhibit space for visiting international works, more children's and community programming, and an improved storage and display environment.

The gallery planned to approach city council soon in early 2008 for the official handover of the site. Construction would have begun after the 2010 Olympics with an opening tentatively scheduled for 2013. The gallery was expected to cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and the gallery hoped to secure funding from provincial and federal governments as well as private donors.[4]

In May 2008 a different site was designated as the chosen site for the new gallery on land occupied until now by the Plaza of Nations near BC Place, with plans to double its size to 320,000 square feet (30,000 m2). A call for designs for the new gallery was expected to go out to architects in the fall of 2008.[5] In 2013, the decision was made to go back to the Georgia and Cambie site.[6] Herzog and de Meuron was selected as the architect.

Gathering place[edit]

A regular gathering spot for protests and demonstrations, the Vancouver Art Gallery's lawn and steps hosts gatherings several times a week. The Vancouver Art Gallery is the monthly meeting spot for Vancouver's Critical Mass, as well as flash mobs, the Zombie Walk, Pro-Marijuana rallies, and numerous environmental demonstrations. It is also the central gathering point of Vancouver's annual 420 celebration.


  1. ^ Former Vancouver Law Courts. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  2. ^ Vancouver Art Gallery Permanent Collection
  3. ^ Vancouver Art Gallery Art Library
  4. ^ Vancouver Province (22 November 2007). "Vancouver Art Gallery aims to rival world's iconic art centres". Archived from the original on 12 April 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  5. ^ CBC News (20 May 2008). "Vancouver Art Gallery to double in size in new home". files from Paul Grant. Archived from the original on 4 July 2008. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  6. ^ [1]

External links[edit]