A Guide to Art in Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia has a thriving art scene, with something for art lovers of all types. From the world-class collections at the Vancouver Art Gallery and UBC's Museum of Anthropology to Vancouver's many commercial galleries and art markets, Vancouver offers a wealth of opportunities to both see and buy fine art, contemporary art, First Nations art, and art for your home.

Use this Guide to Art in Vancouver to find the best Vancouver art museums, commercial galleries, art markets, and annual art events.

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Vancouver Art Gallery

 Naimul Alam / © TripSavvy 2018

When it comes to fine art in Vancouver, there is one museum that tops every list: the landmark Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), the largest art gallery in western Canada. Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, VAG is home to a collection of over 9,000 artworks, including the largest collection of paintings and works on paper by the famous BC artist Emily Carr, and a world-renowned collection of contemporary photo-based work.

Every year, VAG presents two to three international exhibits that bring major artworks from around the world to Vancouver. Previous exhibits have included Leonardo da Vinci's Mechanics of Man and Vermeer, Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art: Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum.

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First Nations Art

Examples of First Nations artwork, displayed at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games
Coast Mountain Photography / Tourism Vancouver

From the Inukshuk that became the symbol of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics to the image of Bill Reid's Raven and The First Men sculpture that appears on the back of every $20 bill, First Nations art is everywhere in Vancouver, holding an enormously important place in our region's cultural aesthetic. Finding First Nations art in Vancouver is easy: not only can you see that iconic $20-bill Bill Reid sculpture in person at the University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology (MOA) (along with over 500,000 cultural artifacts), you can browse many First Nations commercial galleries in Gastown .

Some museums and galleries to check out include the Bill Reid GalleryCoastal Peoples Fine Art GalleryInuit Gallery of Vancouver, and Hill's Native Art.

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Top Commercial Art Galleries

Public art in the South Granville neighborhood of Vancouver, BC
Vancouver Public Space Network / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 

Vancouver has many fine, contemporary, and commercial art galleries. Most galleries are located either in downtown Vancouver (making it easy to create your own walking tour of art galleries, starting with VAG) or in South Granville, which has earned the moniker "Gallery Row" for its wealth of commercial art galleries.

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Craft Markets

Wares at the Vancouver Portobello West Art and Craft Market
Stefania Savluc / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Many Vancouver artists sell their works at local art and craft markets. At Vancouver art and craft markets, visitors can buy a wide range of locally-made artworks, from sculptures and paintings to ceramics, glassworks, and photography. The most famous Vancouver art market is Portobello West, a fashion and art market that happens four times a year.

In addition, check out markets like Got Craft? Vancouver and the Vancouver Christmas & Holiday Markets, which runs in November and December.

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Annual Vancouver Art Festivals and Events

Khatsahlano Music & Arts Festival in Vancouver BC
Khatsahlano Music & Arts Festival

Among the best places to see and buy art in Vancouver are the hyper-local annual art festivals and events. Many of these events are free and present the perfect opportunity to meet and support Vancouver artists working in a variety of mediums.

Some annual art festivals include The Drift: Art on Main Street (October), Heart of the City Festival (late October-early November), and Eastside Culture Crawl (November).

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