Vancouver is one of North America’s most important gateways to Asia, and has one of the fastest growing Asian populations around the world. According to Statistics Canada, 43% of Vancouver residents are of Asian heritage, and 70% of all recent immigrants to the city have origins in Asia.

Recognizing the contributions of these residents and wishing to strengthen our commitment to Asian art in our programs, the Vancouver Art Gallery launched the Institute of Asian Art (IAA) in October 2014. This initiative serves as a focal point in the region for exhibitions and public programs relating to both historical and contemporary Asian art. The IAA is also responsible for organizing events that bring together art enthusiasts, collectors and curators to celebrate the accomplishments of Asian artists.

The Gallery is a significant contributor to the study of Asian art in this country and internationally, strengthened through collaborations with an ever-widening circle of individuals and organizations here and abroad. Our vision is to profoundly affect the ways in which audiences in this country come to understand and celebrate the cultures of Asia, and facilitate a deeper understanding between cultures.


Exhibitions with a focus on Asian art have always been an important part of the Gallery’s programming. Since our earliest days we have demonstrated a commitment to mounting presentations that highlight the remarkable achievements of artists who are from Asia and/ or have significant cultural links to that region. A major step toward cementing Asian art programming at the Gallery occurred in October 2014 with the launch of the Institute and the opening of The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors.

Since then, the Gallery has organized at least one major historical or contemporary Asian art exhibition every year. While most of these exhibitions are mounted on-site, occasionally they appear at international venues, underscoring our active role in a global art community that values the exchange of ideas and information across borders.


The Vancouver Art Gallery’s Permanent Collection of over 12,000 artworks reveals the evolution of more than two centuries of art making in Canada within an international context. The collection features historical and contemporary art in all media and represents the wide range of art movements that have been important globally. When acquiring works by Asian artists, the Gallery focuses on art that stems from Asian traditions, exploring issues such as globalism, cross-culturalism and/or identity.

The Gallery’s Chinese art collection contains many notable works by artists such as Wang Du, Yang Fudong, Zhu Jinshi, O Zhang and the art collective MadeIn Company. Following the 2010 presentation of Waste Not by Song Dong, we purchased a major work by the artist called Fill in the Sea, comprised of 168 colour photographs created to mark the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China. Wang Dongling gifted his Heart Sutra calligraphic drawing following his performance in the Gallery’s Rotunda in October 2016. In autumn of 2018 we were very pleased to acquire three beautiful works on paper by the Hong Kong artist Lui-Shou Kwan.

The Gallery is grateful for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s donation of a major 2014 work by Wang Jianwei and, in 2019, an important video animation work by Xun Sun, with support from the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative and China Global. We also received in 2019 a donation from Maryon Adelaar that includes significant works by Xin Cang, Yufen Qin, Xinning Shi, Tiehai Zhou and Koki Tanaka. Our collection also includes works by Eikoh Hosoe, Reena Saini Kallat, Mariko Mori, Fiona Tan, Hung-Min Yoon and Jin-me Yoon.



Tour Liaisons welcome school groups and prepare them for their visit to the Gallery as well as assist during art-making workshops for students. Tour Liaison & Workshop Assistant shifts are three hours long on weekday mornings and afternoons.

Founding Members Of Asian Arts Council
  • The Audain Curator of British Columbia Art
  • Audain Emerging Artist Acquisition Fund
  • Audain Prize Endowment Fund
  • The Audain Curator of British Columbia Art
  • Audain Emerging Artist Acquisition Fund
  • Audain Prize Endowment Fund