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.
Vancouver Art Gallery
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.
First Nations Art
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 .
Top Commercial Art Galleries
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.
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.
Annual Vancouver Art Festivals and Events
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.