Over the last decade, the city of Ottawa has completely transformed, shedding its reputation as a sleepy government town to assume the role of a cultural mecca that showcases the country’s finest art.
Canadians and foreigners have taken notice and are visiting in droves each year, creating a flourishing tourism industry that has energized the economy. Today we’re breaking down the Ottawa art scene so you can discover the best museums and galleries.
The Ottawa Art Gallery
This gallery is also known as the OAG, and will be located right next to DevMcGill’s ArtHaus project in the downtown core on Daly Avenue. The establishment mainly showcases contemporary and historical artwork that reflects the Ottawa region, meaning several local artists have contributed to the current collection. There are always new exhibitions and events, so it’s a great place to begin your artistic pilgrimage while visiting the city. While construction on Daly Avenue is currently underway, all exhibitions are being shown at the OAG Annex inside Ottawa City Hall at 110 Laurier Avenue West.
The National Gallery of Canada
This museum is one of the most popular attractions in the city, and it’s instantly recognizable by the alluring architecture, which definitely stands against the Ottawa skyline. Famed architect Moshe Safdie designed the building. He was responsible for the innovative Habitat 67 in Montreal, which challenged architectural conventions and aesthetics.
There’s also a nine metre bronze statue that takes the form of a giant spider at the entrance of the museum, which was created by Louise Bourgeois. She nicknamed this giant spider Maman and it’s been a huge hit with tourists.
The curators work tirelessly to preserve the thousands of pieces of artwork that are housed within the complex, along with regularly hosting exhibitions that tour the world. Just last year, the National Gallery of Canada featured a massive exhibition focusing on the work of Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, who was the portrait artist of Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France in the 18th century.
The exhibition told a distinct story about Le Brun’s life and detailed how the French revolution nearly annihilated the French aristocracy, which forced her to flee to the east and seek refuge in Tsarist Russia.
The museum is open every day from 9:30 am until 6:00 pm, and you can plan your next visit by checking out their website here.
Canadian Museum of Nature
This museum is located right near Ottawa’s picturesque downtown core and just received a $250 million makeover, according to the Globe and Mail. The public has just been allowed to visit the building, and early reviews indicate it provides a breathtaking adventure that tells a fascinating story about our natural history. They have several different exhibitions to satisfy your curiosity, which include the following:
- Canada Goose Arctic Gallery
- Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year
- Northern Voices Gallery
- Fossil Gallery
- Earth Gallery
- Mammal Gallery
- Stone Wall Gallery
- Bird Gallery
- Nature Live (living insects and invertebrates)
- Water Gallery
This museum is great for young families, as the children will be completely captivated by all the different sights and attractions. For more information, you can consult their website here.
Canadian War Museum
Over the last century, the Canadian army has played a pivotal role the World Wars. This is documented in the Canadian War Museum, which showcases the horrors soldiers faced on the battlefield as they defiantly fought for our freedom. There are a few interesting expositions going on at the moment, which include:
- Vimy – Beyond the Battle
- From the Cold War to Present
- The Canadian Jewish experience
- World Press Photo Exhibition 2017
- Preserved in Stone
Ottawa has a lot to offer both Canadians and tourists looking to explore the exploding art scene. If you’re thinking about relocating to the city in the near future, take a look at DevMcGill’s new Arthaus project, which offers the best view in the capital. Approximately 75 percent of of the units are sold, so act now before it’s too late!
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