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Meet the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

In a nutshell: The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is the second largest art gallery in the province, with the largest collection both in scope and size, featuring over 18,000 works in the visual arts. The Art Gallery was formed in 1945, and in 1951 it moved into the Spencer mansion on Moss Street where it currently resides. Over the years there have been several additions to the facility to accommodate increased exhibition, programming, and art storage.

The Art Gallery collaborates with the 3 local universities, 5 local school districts, the Greater Victoria Public Library, and regional not-for-profit organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Foundation, with who outreach education programs are developed.

In 1977, the last addition to the gallery was completed. 38 years later, there is a clear need to expand the gallery to keep up with the growing demands of the community, the evolving nature of the art world and the proper maintenance of the art collection.

Number of Employees:
 27 full and part time staff

Industry Sector:
 Arts and Culture

Area of Town:
 Bordering downtown

Primary Product/Service:
 Visual Arts 

How would you describe The Art Gallery in 30 words or less:

For over 60 years The Art Gallery has presented the best of the arts to residents of Greater Victoria and tourists alike.

What is the best part about doing business in Greater Victoria?

Victoria has a community that values the arts, artists and ideas. It is proud of its cultural heritage and embraces creativity.

Our artists, writers, actors, dancers, and musicians are celebrated. Greater Victoria is also home to one of Canada’s most revered artists, Emily Carr, who gave the country a new way of looking at art and the landscape of this region. 

What is the best thing The Art Gallery is doing for Victoria?

The Art Gallery is committed to its role in enriching the community.

Each year the Art Gallery reaches in excess of 200,000 people through admission to the Gallery, involvement in our educational and outreach programming, contact through the web site and use of its online interactive collections data base.

The Art Gallery’s touring exhibits reach tens of thousands of visitors at host venues, provincially, nationally and internationally linking the world back to British Columbia’s Capital Region. Almost 25 per cent of our visitors are tourists visiting Vancouver Island.

The Art Gallery Paint In (held annually on Moss Street in Victoria) attracts almost 10 per cent of the population of the Capital Regional District (CRD).

We provide public education and interdisciplinary programming developed specifically to engage new artists and those interested in art to deepen their relationship with the art experience.

Art is a common language. To support equal access to art, the Art Gallery has provided non-paid access to exhibitions and programming to approximately 10,200 individuals in the past year who for economic reasons could not otherwise have afforded to attend the Gallery. Locals who benefited include families identified by parent resource centres, residents of care facilities, and local community-based support and neighbourhood associations. This commitment represents an investment back into the community of $120,000 per year.

What is it like working at The Art Gallery?

The Art Gallery is a great place to work. I meet people from all parts of our community and have the enviable task of showing them treasures that amaze and delight.

Being surrounded by art all the time is so moving. I love being able to see the different expressions of the artists, people, cultures, and the reactions that it gives observers.
Sometimes I feel like my job is a hobby that has gotten out of hand and many of the people that work here feel the same way. I’m surrounded by kindred spirits who have a love of art, creativity, and ideas.

What are 3 things few people know about The Art Gallery? 

We are home to the best collection of Japanese art in Canada. This collection started in 1952 and since that time has grown exponentially. In Asian art in general we have the second largest collection to the Royal Ontario Museum. The collection has benefited from our location; donations have been made over the years by a number of people who chose to retire in Greater Victoria after working in Asia.

The Art Gallery’s entire collection is worth over $180 million and is all by donation. Art owners trust us to take their art — something that they are passionate about — and look after it. As our collection grows with important pieces of work, people entrust us with the care and sharing of their art. They know it will be well looked after and exhibited among our other elite pieces.

25 per cent of our Art Gallery membership is made up of youth. We are building the Art Gallery up to still be sustainable in the next 50-60 years and in order to do that we are attracting a younger audience to keep it thriving through our school programs and events.

What is The Art Gallery proudest of?
A range of programs from cutting edge contemporary to TD Moss Street Paint In.

The Art Gallery touches about 200,000 people a year through our different programs such as our online exhibitions, gallery exhibitions, events, and programs. For a small regional gallery we are doing a pretty good job at making a difference in people’s lives.

What is The Art Gallery proudest of? 

A range of programs from cutting edge contemporary to TD Moss Street Paint In.

The Art Gallery touches about 200,000 people a year through our different programs such as our online exhibitions, gallery exhibitions, events, and programs. For a small regional gallery we are doing a pretty good job at making a difference in people’s lives.

Some of the things that we show make a real impact on people’s lives. Things like war or depression for example can be difficult for some people to understand if they haven’t experienced it firsthand. Art provides that better understanding; it can evoke an emotional response and a better intellectual understanding of the issues or events.

The fact that we provide a place for refuge, understanding, beauty, and spark emotion and intrigue for people is what make us proudest.  

Are there any other fun facts about The Art Gallery we should know about? 

We’re taking some initiatives to reach outside of the regular “art gallery type” spectrum. The Art Gallery – like art - is designed for the whole community, so we are always aiming to widen our doors to include a broader group.
We host a gallery party three times a year called Urbanite. Urbanite is a party with DJs, cocktails, appetizers, and is usually during an exhibit. It’s meant to take away the stuffiness associated with art galleries and open up the space to those who might not come to the gallery in normal circumstances.

Through our New Extreme program, we reach teen artists through a mentorship program focusing on introducing them to new art practise such as street art.

We also work actively with local partnerships such as schools and non-profits to try and engage an interest in art in those who may not have interest otherwise.

For more information about The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria check out their Chamber Directory Listing or their website.


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