A Complete Guide to the Ottawa Art Gallery: 5 Amazing Things to Know

Ottawa Art Gallery expanded cube shaped building

It is well known that art is the highest form of human expression and there exists no better way to convey emotions and thoughts other than art.

The Ottawa art gallery, Ontario, Canada exists as a medium for people to relate to an artist’s work and the emotions behind it. The gallery showcases historic as well as contemporary Canadian art. Providing a home to the art and artists of the Ottawa-Gatineau region, the gallery holds over 1,500 local, national, and international artworks.

This cultural hub features a diverse collection of paintings, sculptures, and digital art along with various educational and outreach programs and events. The Ottawa art gallery, is a very vibrant cultural hub, capturing the eyes of visitors across the city and beyond.

1. History and Infrastructure

Earlier known as “The Gallery at Arts Court”, the OAG was founded in an effort by artists to represent local art, in 1988. Its name changed to Ottawa Art Gallery in the year 1993 and a survey exhibition for local art was held soon after its opening which included artworks by more than 150 artists.

The art gallery was established as a nonprofit organization in an attempt to allow artists to represent the city of Ottawa. In the year 2018, a new 55,000-square-foot area was added to the original building growing it three times its previous size. This expanded OAG building opened on 28th April 2018.

Designed by KPMB Architects and Régis Côté et associés, this contemporary luminous cube-shaped building provides community, public and educational programming, and special events to engage the local artistic community. The new building includes exhibition galleries, a rooftop terrace, a cafe, and a gift shop for visitors to shop from after exploring the art galleries.

The Ottawa Art Gallery’s collections include over 1,500 works of contemporary and historic art, which focus on the artwork of Canada. It is mainly known for its two main collections: The City of Ottawa-owned Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, and its permanent collection.

2.1 Firestone Collection of Canadian Art

Ottawa Art Gallery expanded cube shaped building
The Firestone Collection at

The Ottawa Art gallery is known for housing the City of Ottawa-owned Firestone Collection of Canadian Art (FCCA), which it became the custodian of in 1992.

The Firestone family donated their collection to the Ontario Heritage Foundation in 1972, to make it accessible to the public. The Foundation later transferred this ownership to the Ottawa art gallery. The Firestone Collection is a significant City-owned artwork that is enjoyed by the public. The history of the Firestone Collection of Canadian art and its art pieces are also displayed on the museum’s official site.

2.2 The Permanent Collection

The permanent collection
The Permanent Collection at

The permanent collection of the Ottawa art gallery is a growing artwork of thousands of works of art by historic and contemporary Canadian artists with particular emphasis on the artists from the Ottawa-Gatineau region. This comprises paintings, sculptures, films, photographs, and new media from all over Canada.

Some of the notable works in the Ottawa art gallery include Tom Thomson’s “Northern Lake” (1914), Alma Duncan’s “Summer Tangle” (1979), and Wanda Koop’s “Road Trips” (2010).

International contemporary art includes artwork from various corners of the world, such as Asia, America, and Europe. The work features various media, including painting, video, installation art, and sculpture.

3. Exhibitions

The Ottawa Art Gallery hosts a variety of exhibitions throughout the year which showcases both contemporary and historic art of Canada.

These exhibitions portray the culture and identity of Canada through different themes, ranging from solo shows to group exhibitions.

3.1 Wilfrid Flood (1904 – 1946) | a passion for pictures

Flood’s paintings were done in oil, pencil, pastel, and watercolors and gave a sense of warmth to the viewers. The paintings captured a strong sense of the Ottawa-Gatinueau region. The exhibition started in January 2023 and will be continued till February 2024.

Wilfrid flood(1904 - 1946) Thumbnail

3.2 Reference point | recent historical acquisitions

The year 2023 marks the Ottawa art gallery’s 35th anniversary and so in the celebration, the exhibition showcases recent historical acquisitions and artwork that was created before 1988. They help to widen the story of their evolution as a community.

reference point OAG

3.3 Interconnected

Interconnected is a group exhibition. It contains artwork that explores the relationship between depth, form, and color. A wide variety of media is used to portray depth and flatness such as digital painting, fiber art, digital collage, and painting.

3.4 “Àdisòkàmagan / Nous connaître un peu nous-mêmes / We’ll all become stories” (2019)

This exhibition was held in 2019 and was based on indigenous stories, traditions, and cultures.

Along with the numerous exhibitions it hosts, the Ottawa Art Gallery also offers various events throughout the year, including workshops, performances, and artist talks.

These events provide opportunities for visitors to interact with the artists whose work has impacted them and learn more about them and their creative process.

Photo of Creative Space Event at Ottawa Art Gallery

Some recent events held at the gallery include a workshop on cyanotype printing and a talk show by the artist Jinny Yu. The events are organized every week and are accessible to all.

Such art collections and exhibitions provide visitors with a wide range of art experience that aims to inspire, educate and engage. Various other programs such as guided tours, lectures, and workshops help make the visitors understand the idea behind the creative work of the artist even more.

5. Visiting Hours and Admission

Admission to the Ottawa Art Gallery is free, although they do accept and appreciate donations.

Pre-registration is not required anymore, visitors can simply walk in.


The Ottawa Art Gallery is an important cultural institution located in the heart of Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, and is known for housing a diverse collection of art from Canada that depicts Canadian history and art.

The Ottawa Art Gallery is home to Canadian treasures in the form of art. Its new purpose-built building provides visitors with an engaging space to explore collections and attend various events that are held. The new facility also includes a cafe and a gift shop, in an attempt to provide the visitors with a place to relax as well as a shop to get souvenirs.

The Ottawa art gallery is not only a place for art lovers but also a cultural institution that attempts in preserving and promoting Canadian culture through historic artwork. The gallery provides a platform for emerging and established artists to showcase their creative work.

Overall, the Ottawa art gallery is a must-visit destination for those who are interested in Canadian culture and its art . Whether you’re a resident or a visitor to the region, a trip to the art gallery is a must-see as it is sure to be an enlightening and enthralling experience.

Also, if you find yourself in Ottawa then here are some places you should not miss at all, and if you want to experience art and nature all at once, then The Canadian Museum of Nature is just the right place for you.

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