Located at Georgia and Howe and backing onto Robson Square, the Vancouver Art Gallery is a beautiful building. It’s full of paintings, sculptures and other art.
This article has information about the Vancouver Art Gallery. You’ll also find a description, and video, of the memorial to survivors of First Nations children who have died at Canadian residential schools in the past.
The memorial began in 2021 after the discovery of the remains of over 200 children on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. The memorial of shoes and children’s toys is on the steps of the art gallery by Robson Street. It’s a powerful reminder of a shameful part of Canada’s history.
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Vancouver’s Art Gallery
Next door to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, the Vancouver Art Gallery is one of Canada’s largest and most significant art galleries. It has a permanent collection of over 10,000 pieces of art, although usually only a tiny percentage is on display at any given time.
The collection comprises numerous works by BC and Vancouver artists. It has one of North America’s best photographic collections. It’s also home to the most significant collection of Emily Carr’s paintings in Canada, as well as many of the famous BC artist’s drawings and ceramic works.
The works of many other Canadian and internationally-renowned artists are also at the gallery. As many as 600,000 people visit the attraction each year.
Hours and Admission Rates
As of September 2022, the gallery’s hours of operation are the following:
- Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays – 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Tuesdays – 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm (with 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm by donation)
- Fridays – 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
General admission is about $29 for adults and free for everyone under the age of 19. Gallery members and attendants for people with disabilities also get free admission.
Visitors can buy tickets online at set times at 1-hour intervals, which means only a certain number of people can go in at a time.
Vancouver Art Gallery Location
Right at the heart of downtown Vancouver, just a short walk from the Vancouver City Centre SkyTrain Station, the art gallery is in a block bordered by Georgia, Howe, Robson and Hornby Streets. The building’s physical address is 750 Hornby Street.
Georgia is a street lined with some of the city’s tallest skyscrapers. Robson is Vancouver’s most famous street for shopping and Hornby is a favourite for cyclists with its dedicated bike lane.
At the back of the Vancouver Art Gallery and across the street is vibrant Robson Square at 800 Robson Street. The South Plaza was renovated in 2021. Cars used to be able to drive along the street there, but no longer as of that year.
First Nations Shoes in 2021 and 2022
Since the late spring of 2021, if you look at the steps at the back of the Vancouver Art Gallery, you’ll see hundreds of pairs of children’s shoes. You’ll also see teddy bears and other kids’ toys. This is a memorial to children who have died at residential schools in the past in Canada.
The memorial was initially for the 215 children found buried at a school in Kamloops in the spring of 2021. Since then, however, more children’s bodies have been found buried on school property elsewhere in the country.
To learn more about this shameful part of Canada’s past, click 215 Innocent Children.
First Nations Memorial Video
The following video shows what the memorial to Indigenous children who have died at former residential schools looks like. It’s a powerful, yet sad reminder of racism in Canada and a shameful chapter of its past. Canada is a great country, but it still needs to do so much better!
Art Gallery Plaza and Events
Outside the Vancouver Art Gallery is an open area that hosts a wide range of events during the year. This includes concerts, festivals and protests of all kinds. The North Plaza used to be a lawn, but with all the events and demonstrations taking place the city was smart and got rid of the grass to cut down on maintenance.
In addition to protest gatherings of various sorts, the plaza in front of the gallery is also where you’ll find events like the following:
- The starting line and performance stage during the Vancouver Sun Run in April.
- Bands playing during the Vancouver International Jazz Festival in mid to late June.
- The Vancouver Thai Festival takes place in the North Plaza outside the Vancouver Art Gallery in the summer.
- The Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Festival is a free event in the North Plaza in the summer.
- Summer Movie Nights take place on Wednesday evenings in the north plaza (šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square) outside the Vancouver Art Gallery in July and August.
Vancouver Art Gallery Building
The Vancouver Art Gallery is in the beautiful former provincial courthouse building. It’s over 100 years old. Sir Francis Rattenbury designed the building as well as BC’s Legislature and the Empress Hotel in Victoria. Another building designed by Rattenbury is Roedde House which is now a museum in Vancouver’s West End.
Today, from the outside, Vancouver Art Gallery is one of Vancouver’s most significant, impressive and attractive pieces of architecture.
The North Plaza
Various events take place outdoors in the open spaces on the north and south sides of the Vancouver Art Gallery over the course of the year.
Since 2018, the north plaza’s official name is šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square. šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ which is a term used in the local Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish First Nation languages to refer to places where important cultural gatherings take place. The word is pronounced, very approximately, “Hootlacken”.
Tips and Advice
Below are some suggestions to help you save money and make the most out of your visit to the gallery.
TIP #1: Admission to the Vancouver Art Gallery is by donation on Tuesday evenings from 5:00 to 8:00.
TIP #2: Try to time your visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery with a visiting exhibition that meets your interests and tastes. There are a lot of very interesting ones that come to town. Click Current Exhibitions to find out what’s showing now, and Upcoming Exhibitions for what will be on display in the future.
TIP #3: If you like art then you might also want to check out the Contemporary Art Gallery at 555 Nelson Street. It’s a small independent public art gallery and admission is free. Another nice art museum is the Bill Reid Gallery which is just a few blocks away.
TIP #4: There are a number of great museums in the Lower Mainland. If you like history and boats, then a good one to check out is the Vancouver Maritime Museum. In 2022 (and maybe in future years too), if you book your tickets online for that museum and use the promo code BESTVANCOUVER you can save yourself 25% on admission.
For more information about the attraction see the Vancouver Art Gallery website.
If you like art, especially photographic art, another place to check out is the Polygon Gallery in North Vancouver. It’s nowhere near as large or as extensive as the Vancouver Art Gallery. It’s interesting though and admission is by donation.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Attraction Tickets Thru Tiqets.com
- Vancouver’s Top 100 Places
- Rainy Day Activities
- History and Culture in Vancouver
- Vancouver Shows and Entertainment