The Bill Reid Gallery in downtown Vancouver features art by world-famous Haida artist Bill Reid, as well as works by other West Coast First Nations artists.
Bill Reid Indigenous Art Gallery
Located at 639 Hornby Street, the Bill Reid Gallery is just behind Christ Church Anglican Cathedral and across the street from the Burrard Street SkyTrain Station.
GALLERY CLOSES AND THEN REOPENS
Due to concerns about the spread of the Novel Coronavirus in Vancouver, and, as part of the effort to contain the outbreak, the gallery has been closed to the public for a number of weeks. As of June 6th, 2020, however, it is resuming operations with special precautionary measures in place.
For details about the closure see the Bill Reid Gallery website.
The Bill Reid Gallery
The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art is a gallery with a small, yet exceptional collection of West Coast art including wood carvings, bronze works, paintings, Indigenous masks, gold jewellery and sculptures in other mediums.
It’s not a large gallery, and can take between 15 minutes and an hour or more to go through, all depending on your interest in Bill Reid and Canadian First Nations art. There are a couple of short films to see and the main exhibit changes every six months.
Art featured at the gallery includes major works by Bill Reid, as well as a variety of contemporary work by other Northwest Coast artists.
From April 22nd until October 4th, 2020, there is a special exhibition entitled To Speak With A Golden Voice to celebrate Bill Reid’s 100th birthday. This exhibit features rare artwork to commemorate the artist’s life and his influence on Indigenous artwork and culture.
The Bill Reid Gallery is open daily from mid-May until early September from 10 to 5 pm. From the fall until late spring it is open just Wednesdays to Sundays from 11 to 5 pm.
Admission to the gallery is about $13 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for students, and $6 for youth ages 13-17. Children 12 and under are free and the family rate is $30.
TIP: Admission is free on the first Friday of the month from 2 to 5 pm. Admission is also free every day for students studying at Simon Fraser University (with valid ID).
For more information, including current exhibitions, check out the official Bill Reid Gallery website.
Tips and Advice
Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most out of your visit to the Bill Reid Gallery.
TIP #1: There is not a lot of written explanation on the exhibits (or at least there wasn’t when we last went). There are, however, laminated information sheets in a few places on the walls that you can take down and read. They are easy to miss, so we recommend you look out for them. The short films also provide useful background information.
TIP #2: If you plan to attend in a group, guided tours can be booked in advance for about $65 for up to 20 people. The extra explanation is valuable and enhances the experience.
TIP #3: If you aren’t sure what to expect and want to see a sample of what you’ll see before paying and going in, check out the small gift shop. Art featured there reflects what’s on display in the gallery.
TIP #4: A best time to visit the Bill Reid Gallery is on National Indigenous Peoples Day, which is on June 21st each year. There is a good chance that admission will be free or at least discounted on this day.
TIP #5: If you’re looking to buy some authentic art and can’t find what you’re looking for in the gallery gift shop, one of our favourite local Native American artists is Alano Edzerza. Not only does he do amazing wood carvings, jewellery, paintings and prints right here in Metro Vancouver, but he also has his own line of clothing featuring his art. Check out www.edzerzagallery.com for details. He sells online and ships worldwide.
Who Was Bill Reid?
Bill Reid (1920-1998) was one of Canada’s most famous First Nation artists. Born in Victoria, BC to a Haida mother and American father of German-Scottish decent, Bill Reid was a celebrated Haida artist, sculptor, author and journalist.
Bill Reid’s major works included Chief of the Undersea World (the fountain sculpture outside the Vancouver Aquarium), Raven and the First Men (on display at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC), and Spirit of Haida Gwaii: The Black Canoe (the boat sculpture on display at the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC and featured on some Canadian $20 bills).
Other Places for First Nations Art and Culture
Other great venues to find First Nations art and cultural artifacts in the Lower Mainland include the following:
- Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.
- Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler.
The Museum of Anthropology is another place to find works by Bill Reid, as well as impressive First Nation artifacts. The Vancouver International Airport also has a surprisingly impressive collection of Bill Reid art, including the Spirit of Haida Gwaii: The Jade Canoe, which can be found at the Departures section in the International Terminal on Level 3.
For more information on the Bill Reid Gallery, check out www.billreidgallery.ca.
For other interesting places to visit, check out Vancouver’s Best Places for History, Art and Culture.