History and Vision
A Message from OAG's Director and CEO
Your Home for the Arts
We believe art and culture are essential parts of belonging and are the building blocks for the society we want. Art is a means by which we come together to celebrate the shared experiences that add texture and inspiration to the everyday.
We believe that regional art and artists offer us a unique vision of our society. Though grounded within a specific geography, these play an essential role in addressing and helping us to better understand the complex, global challenges of our time.
Our exhibitions present regional art within a national and international context, and our programs reach patrons and participants from toddlers to seniors. The OAG also “holds space” for our community and we strongly believe in interdisciplinary collaborations and partnership as a means of achieving this accessible place.
The OAG tells the story of our community’s evolution through art and helps to create a positive vision for our city’s future. As a cultural anchor in the downtown core, we are a sustainable and innovative institution that is a positive economic contributor to the City of Ottawa and we hold a world-class collection of art for the people of the region.
At OAG, you can expect to experience:
- A welcoming and affordable engagement with art
- An inspiring cultural destination that you will want to share with friends and family
- A shared sense of pride in the cultural contributions of artists from the Ottawa-Gatineau region
We emerged in the late 1980s when a grassroots group of artists and city-builders fought to have a gallery that presented and collected the art of our region, so that our artists could represent the City of Ottawa to the nation and to the world. Throughout the decades, we have showcased hundreds of artists, many of whom have represented us at major festivals and galleries across the globe.
We also received an amazing gift of Canadian art from the Firestone family who inspired us to strive to find innovative and inspiring ways to connect art and people, as they used to do in their family home. With over 1600 artworks, this world-class collection features one of the largest holdings of paintings and drawings by famed Group of Seven member A. Y. Jackson.
In 2010, the OAG began an eight-year journey to design and construct a new, purpose-built gallery. The OAG Expansion opened to great success on April 28, 2018. Growing five times the size of its former home in Arts Court, this museum-quality space, designed by KPMB and Regis Cote Architects, exemplifies new trends in cultural destinations with a special focus on the use of natural light, ample public space, and being situated in the heart of the city.
It is the first visual arts Public Private Partnership (P3) complex in North America and won Ottawa Tourism’s New Visitor Experience Award in 2019. Since our re-opening in 2018, OAG has welcomed over a million visitors in person and even more through our digital platforms and outreach programs. OAG’s Strategic Priorities demonstrate a continued commitment to broadening access and supporting our arts community while remaining a sustainable and relevant cultural organization by centralizing anti-racism, equity and inclusion as foundational tenets.
Director and CEO, Ottawa Art Gallery