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.
Group Tour Bookings
Library and Slide Library
Rights and Reproduction
As the Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Kathleen Bartels has led the 80-year old organization through a period of unprecedented growth. Since she joined the Gallery in 2001, the institutional endowment has increased from $200,000 to more than $10 million and membership has grown from 5,000 to a high of 50,000 Gallery members. The Gallery’s permanent art collection has recently passed the 10,000 mark, representing approximately 4,000 acquisitions under Bartels’ leadership.
The Gallery now has plans to construct a new building of approximately double the size of the current facility. With early lead funding of $50 million from the Province of British Columbia towards the estimated $300 million project, as well as private pledges totalling more than $40 million and reservation of a city-owned site in downtown Vancouver---all prior to the launch of a public capital campaign---the Gallery is well on its way to realizing this vision.
Bartels’ artistic direction has resulted in a significant transformation in the program, melding a dynamic mix of contemporary and historical exhibitions that bring the best of the art world to Vancouver and the best of Vancouver to the world. Through such ground-breaking exhibitions as Massive Change: The Future of Global Design (2004), Brian Jungen (2006), and Andreas Gursky: Werke/Works, 80-08 (2009), 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 Raven Travelling: Two Centuries of Haida Art (2006), Vermeer, Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art: Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum (2009), and the monumental Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man (2010) which attracted more than 150,000 visitors to the Gallery during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. In addition, Ms. Bartels has to date co-curated three Gallery exhibitions Kai Althoff (2008) and Anthony Hernandez (2009) and Kerry James Marshall (2010) with artist Jeff Wall.
Education and public programs have also witnessed significant change and expansion in the last decade, involving much closer collaboration with arts organizations, artists and educational institutions.
Prior to joining the Vancouver Art Gallery, Bartels was on staff with the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles for thirteen years, serving as the museum’s assistant director from 1997-2001. Born and raised in Chicago, Kathleen Bartels earned a BA in Photography at Columbia College and undertook graduate research in Pacific Art History at the University of Hawaii.
Bartels has received many awards during her distinguished career. She has been named one of Vancouver Magazine’s “Power 50” most influential leaders for the past seven consecutive years and was honoured with the prestigious Hadassah-WIZO “Women of Achievement” award. She has served on numerous art panels, boards and committees and is currently a member of the British Columbia Achievement Foundation Board, as well as a member of the Membership Committee of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD). In 2010, Bartels proudly carried the Olympic Torch for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. --- March 2011
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.