- About Us
- The Future
Vancouver Art Gallery
750 Hornby Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada V6Z 2H7
24-hour Info line: 604.662.4719
The Gallery's administration offices are open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm and closed statutory holidays.
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Library and Slide Library
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Kathleen Bartels is the Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery where she has led the Gallery through a period of unprecedented growth and, in 2015, marked 14 years of leadership as the Director of this 84-year-old organization.
Bartels' direction has resulted in a significant transformation in the program, melding a dynamic mix of contemporary and historical exhibitions that exemplify the Gallery's commitment to bring the best of the art world to Vancouver and the best of Vancouver to the world. Through such ground-breaking exhibitions as KRAZY! The Delirious World of Animé + Comics + Video Games + Art (2008), Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture (2012), Unscrolled: Reframing Tradition in Contemporary Chinese Art (2014), and How Do I Fit This Ghost in My Mouth? An exhibition by Geoffrey Farmer (2015), the Gallery has heightened its international reputation in the contemporary art community. Outstanding historical exhibitions have become another Vancouver Art Gallery hallmark, including such original presentations as Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man (which attracted more than 150,000 visitors to the Gallery during the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2010), The Colour of My Dreams: The Surrealist Revolution in Art (2011), and Charles Edenshaw (2013). In addition, Bartels has to date co-curated four Gallery exhibitions with artist Jeff Wall, including Anthony Hernandez (2009), Kerry James Marshall (2010), Patrick Faigenbaum (2013), and Martin Honert (2013). In 2014, in association with the opening of The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of Chinas Emperors, the Gallery launched the Institute of Asian Art to reflect its deep commitment to exhibiting contemporary and historical Asian art and exploring the art and culture of Vancouver and its place in the world. Vigorous audience engagement has also been a priority for Bartels, and today the Gallery delivers a diverse range of public educational programs for more than 190,000 people annually designed to engage the community in understanding and appreciating the world of art and culture.
With an annual operating budget now at approximately $17 million, the Gallery has made great strides during Bartels tenure in growing the levels of contributed and earned income, with private sector donations having increased by more than 250%, the institutional endowment growing fifty-fold from $200,000 to more than $11 million today, and significant growth in attendance, including an average of 35,000 members annually. The Gallerys collection, which represents the most comprehensive resource for visual culture in British Columbia, now numbers 11,617 representing a 49% increase from 2001. Since 2006, the Gallery has ensured broader access throughout British Columbia to our permanent collection by delivering Across the Province, a Gallery-sponsored exhibition program from our collection.
For more than a decade, Bartels has led the institution on its journey to build a new, expanded Vancouver Art Gallery. In 2008, the Gallery received a gift of $50 million from the Province of British Columbia, representing the first contribution towards a $350 million capital and endowment campaign. In 2013, Vancouver City Council unanimously approved the designation of a City-owned site at West Georgia and Cambie Streets for the new Gallery, and in 2014 the Gallery announced Herzog & de Meuron as the selected architects. The goal for the new Gallery, scheduled to open in 2021, is to provide the citizens of Vancouver and all who visit with an amazing experience of art that celebrates British Columbia and its unique place in our world.
Kathleen Bartels has received many awards and honours during her tenure at the Gallery, and most recently the 2015 Outstanding Individual Award by the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association. She is very proud to serve as a Board member of the British Columbia Achievement Foundation
Housing a permanent collection of more than 10,000 artworks, the Vancouver Art Gallery continues to build on the collection's historical and contemporary strengths through the acquisition of work by local and international artists through donation and purchase. Currently, approximately 3% of the collection is on view.
One of the collection's principal strengths is the abundance of works by artists of this region, a strength that reflects the Gallery's commitment to preserve and present works by British Columbia's finest artists. Through emphasis on the presence of the art of this province, the Gallery recognizes the continuing links to the history of British Columbia and its prominence nationally and internationally. The Gallery's holdings include a major collection of photo-conceptual work by internationally renowned Vancouver-based artists Jeff Wall, Stan Douglas, Rodney Graham, Roy Arden and Ian Wallace, among other distinguished artists. The Gallery also houses the most significant collection of Canadian artist Emily Carr's work. Artists E.J. Hughes, Maxwell Bates, Toni Onley, Jack Shadbolt, Bertram Charles Binning, Gordon Smith, Alistair Bell, Takao Tanabe, Robert Davidson, Michael Morris, N.E. Thing Co., Ken Lum, Ann Kipling, Gathie Falk, and Brian Jungen, among many others, are well represented.
While housing one of the most important photographic collections in North America today, the Gallery had acquired a relatively small number of significant photographs prior to 2002, key among these works by John Vanderpant, Eikoh Hosoe, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Minor White and Donigan Cumming. Through a combination of gift and purchase, the Gallery realized a major addition of international photography in 2002 from Toronto collectors Alison and Alan Schwartz, including major works by Cindy Sherman, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, Dan Graham, and others. 2003 and 2004 saw the photographic collection substantially enlarged through gifts from the Schwartz family, Sandra Simpson, Bill Jeffries, Jeremy Caddy and, most notably, the addition of the Claudia Beck and Andrew Gruft collection of more than 450 works, including important photographs by Samuel Bourne, Robert Frank, David Octavius Hill, Robert Adamson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Lewis Hine, Tina Modotti, William Henry Fox-Talbot, Margaret Bourke-White, Weegee, Henri Cartier-Bresson, André Kertész, and others.
The Vancouver Art Gallery's collection originated with few Canadian works and a strong emphasis on British historical painting. The founding collection included only seven works by Canadian artists, six of which were gifts. The first major purchases of Canadian art were made in 1932 with On the Beach, Dinard, c. 1900-1905 by J.W. Morrice, The Road to St. Fidele, c. 1929-1930 by A.Y. Jackson, and three additional works purchased from an exhibition of Canadian art held at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It was not until 1937 that the Vancouver Art Gallery purchased a work by Emily Carr titled Totem Poles, Kitseukla, 1912, which was acquired at a cost of $400. Upon Carr’s death in 1945, a selection of her works was willed to the Province of British Columbia. In 1966, the Trustees officially transferred the Emily Carr Trust Collection, totalling 157 works, to the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Collection is comprised of 252 artworks, including 146 paintings, 51 drawings and 45 ceramic works, as well as letters, books, photographs and untitled sketches.
The Vancouver Art Gallery also houses a number of major works by Canadian artists Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, Jock Macdonald, J.W. Morrice, David Milne, Harold Town, Gershon Iskowitz and Jack Bush. The collection includes a number of works by some of Quebec's best known artists, including Theophile Hamel, Antoine Plamondon, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté Paul-Emile Borduas, Guido Molinari, Jacques de Tonnancour, Claude Tousignant, Charles Gagnon, Yves Gaucher, Alfred Pellan and Jean-Paul Lemieux. The Gallery has acquired major works by Quebecois contemporaries such as Genviève Cadieux, Jana Sterbak, Jocelyne Alloucherie and Betty Goodwin.
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.
In our 80-year history, the Vancouver Art Gallery has expanded three times. Currently operating at and beyond capacity after nearly 30 years in the renovated former provincial courthouse building, the Gallery is now planning a new, purpose-built facility that will meet the community-s needs for the next 50 years and beyond.
Construction of the original Vancouver Art Gallery building began in March of 1931, funded by $130,000 raised by a group of art patrons led by Vancouver businessman Henry A. Stone. The Gallery was constructed on a 132-by-66-foot site donated by the City of Vancouver at 1145 Georgia Street, several blocks west of the organization-s current location. Built for a cost of $40,000, the original Vancouver Art Gallery building was erected in a lot in what was then a residential area at the edge of downtown. It encompassed a single floor of exhibition gallery space.
In 1951, the Vancouver Art Gallery at 1145 Georgia Street was expanded to three times it original size in order to accommodate 157 works by Emily Carr, willed by the artist to the province of British Columbia before her death in 1945. Fundraising for the Gallery expansion was led by Carr-s close friend, Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris, who was instrumental in raising $300,000 toward the project, a sum matched by the City of Vancouver.
The Vancouver Art Gallery remained at 1145 Georgia Street until 1983, when it moved to its present location in the former provincial courthouse building bound by Georgia, Howe, Hornby and Robson Streets. As part of a land exchange between the Province of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver in 1974, the city had acquired a 99-year lease of the imposing, neo-classical courthouse building. Built in 1906, the structure was designed by Victoria architect Sir Francis Mawson Rattenbury (1867-1935).
Vancouver-based Arthur Erickson Architects was hired by the City of Vancouver to carry out a feasibility study on the possible uses for the courthouse building, and the firm returned a report recommending the Gallery relocate to the courthouse. The Gallery agreed to this recommendation and commissioned Erickson's firm to develop the design for a renovation of the courthouse building. Construction began on the $20 million renovation project in December of 1981. The new Vancouver Art Gallery opened to the public in October 1983 in the retrofitted courthouse building with 41,400 square feet of exhibition space.