Local to Contemporary – A Guide to British Columbia’s Art Museums

If you’re looking to explore vibrant local, national and international art, British Columbia has everything you’re looking for. From venues that showcase local artists, to galleries that house magnificent works from across the world, and even Canadian-centric displays, you will be able to view the world through an artist’s eye.

Robert Bateman Centre

Credit: Robert Bateman Centre

Description: The Robert Bateman Centre celebrates one of Canada’s best-known artists by connecting the viewer with the natural world, through Robert’s eyes. In addition to his paintings, Robert is also known as a naturalist and was recognized by the Audubon Society as a hero of conservation.

Permanent displays: Permanent displays at the Robert Bateman Centre include Major Works, Human Landscape, Early Works, Portraits, Africa, Snow & Sculpture, Commentary and Birdsong.


Location: 470 Belleville Street, Victoria

Website: batemancentre.org

Telephone: 250-940-3630


Bill Reid Gallery

Credit: Efford Photography

Description: The gallery is named after acclaimed Haida Gwaii artist, Bill Reid, who was a master carver, goldsmith and sculptor. This is also the only public gallery in Canada that is dedicated to contemporary First Nations art of the northwest coast.

Permanent displays: The permanent displays include over 100 works by Reid, including his bronze statue called Mythic Messengers, as well as gold and silver jewelry and pieces containing Canada’s $20 bill.

Location: 639 Hornby Street, Vancouver

Website: billreidgallery.ca

Telephone: 604-682-3455

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Credit: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Description: The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria features the largest public collection in the province, as well as the gallery shop where you can purchase items made by local artisans. The AGGV is also home to one of the most important Asian art collections in the country and offers an Asian garden retreat amongst bamboo and Chinese maple trees.

Permanent displays: The gallery’s permanent displays include more than 18,000 works that span Asian art; a historical collection featuring Canadian and international artists; and a contemporary art collection that pays homage to Canadian artists and especially those from BC. The gallery also features an ongoing exhibition of Emily Carr’s work.

Location: 1040 Moss Street, Victoria.

Website: aggv.ca

Telephone: 250-384-4171

Chetwynd Chainsaw Carvings

Description: The first carving project began in 1992 as an addition to the 50th anniversary of the construction of the Alaska Highway. The Chetwynd Rendezvous ’92 Committee wanted to leave a reminder of the community’s involvement in the celebration and commissioned master carver Terry McKinnon to create a bear sculpture. In 2005, the community held the first annual Chetwynd International Chainsaw Carving Championship and it has grown into a must-see event on the second weekend of June every year. This isn’t a traditional art museum, but the carvings are detailed and magnificent – certainly worth the trip to see them up close.

Permanent displays: There are more than 120 carvings around town.

Location: The district of Chetwynd

Website: gochetwynd.com/chainsaw-carvings

Telephone: 250-788-1943

Kamloops Art Gallery

Tourism Kamloops / Kamloops Art Gallery

Description: The Kamloops Art Gallery is a significant gallery in the southern interior of the province, and believes that art is an essential part of the human experience. With this in mind, the gallery collects art from a local, national and international level.

Permanent displays: The gallery’s permanent collection features contemporary Canadian art, as well as several historic Canadian works, in an effort to reflect the local area.

Location: 465 Victoria Street, #101, Kamloops.

Website: kag.bc.ca

Telephone: 250-377-2400

Kariton Art Gallery

Credit: Tessa Suderman

Description: Developed in 1971, the Abbotsford Art Council serves as a resource for local artists, and also gives support to art, heritage and cultural organizations in the area.

Permanent displays: The Abbotsford Art Council showcases hundreds of local artists each year at the Kariton Art Gallery.

Location: 2387 Ware Street, Abbotsford

Website: abbotsfordartscouncil.com

Telephone: 604-852-9358

The Reach Gallery Museum

Diego Slosse

Description: The Reach Gallery Museum stretches across 20,000 square feet. This well accommodates travelling exhibitions, which change seasonally. In addition to the exhibitions, the gallery is also home to historic local archives and museum artefacts.

Permanent displays: The Reach is an arts and heritage centre, with a permanent collection of historical archives from the area. These archives are available to the public for research purposes.

Location: 32388 Veterans Way, Abbotsford

Website: thereach.ca

Telephone: 604-864-8087

Royal BC Museum

Credit: Royal BC Museum

Description: Although not primarily an art museum, the Royal BC Museum is home to collections from local artists Frederick Dally, a 19th century photographer, and Emily Carr, a prominent BC artist.

Permanent displays: The Frederick Dally Collection and the Emily Carr Collection.

Location: 675 Belleville Street, Victoria

Website: royalbcmuseum.bc.ca

Telephone: 250-356-7226

Surrey Art Gallery

Credit: Ed White

Description: Opened in 1975, the Surrey Art Gallery specializes in exhibitions and education. Here you’ll find work by local, national and international artists. In 1999, the gallery launched its Digital Art section, creating new work using technology.

Permanent displays: The gallery’s permanent collection contains contemporary Canadian works.

Location: 13750 88 Avenue, Surrey

Website: surrey.ca/culture-recreation

Telephone: 604-501-5566

The Lloyd Gallery

Credit: Lloyd Gallery

Description: The Lloyd Gallery was established in the 1980s, but a fire in 2007 forced them to start anew. There is artwork for sale, and custom framing is available for any job. Check back often for new exhibits coming up!

Permanent displays: The gallery’s permanent displays include over 45 artists and you can view their work through the website.

Location: 18 Front Street, Penticton

Website: lloydgallery.com

Telephone: 250-492-4484

Penticton Art Gallery

Description: The Penticton Art Gallery exists to exhibit, interpret, preserve and promote the visual artistic heritage of the region, the province and the nation.

Permanent Collections: Shifting Cultural Boundaries – “Our collections policy may have a regional focus, but does not exclude works of art from other regions which help to place the works created in this region within a provincial, national or international context. The policy allows us to seek out works of art specific to the region, either by subject matter or by artist, works can be sought out which relate in some way to the cultural fabric of society in the South Okanagan.”

Location: 199 Marina Way, Penticton, V2A 1H5

Website: pentictonartgallery.com

Telephone: 250-493-2928

Armstrong Spallumcheen Museum and Art Gallery

Description: The Armstrong Spallumcheen Museum and Art Gallery is the pride of downtown Armstrong, and provides a beautiful space for local artists to share their work.

Permanent displays: At the gallery, you’ll find a collection of work from local artists.

Location: 3415 Pleasant Valley Road, Armstrong

Website: asmas.ca

Telephone: 250-546-8318

Fazakas Gallery

Credit: Works by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Beau Dick, photo by Christopher Tregilges

Description: The Fazakas Gallery specializes in contemporary and northwest coast Native art, as well as art consulting for potential buyers.

Permanent displays: Displays at the gallery feature a wide range of work by northwest coast Native artists, as well as a more eclectic collection from around the world.

Location: 145 W. 6th Avenue, Vancouver

Website: fazakasgallery.com

Telephone: 604-876-2729

Vancouver Art Gallery

Description: The Vancouver Art Gallery is committed to preserving and presenting works from local BC artists, and it is also home to works from renowned Canadian artists. You’ll also find a large European historical collection.

Permanent displays: The gallery’s permanent display includes over 10,000 works of art, and continues to grow each year. The collection includes works from local BC artists, as well as other Canadians and international artists. The gallery owns the largest and most significant group of painting by Emily Carr.

Location: 750 Hornby Street, Vancouver

Website: vanartgallery.bc.ca

Telephone: 604-622-4719 reaches the 24-hour info line

Blogger who has lived the experience:

Natasha Irvine

Museum of Anthropology at UBC

Tourism Vancouver/ Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC)

Description: While perhaps not a stereotypical art gallery, the MOA certainly contains some of the finest art in B.C. Find two-dimensional visual arts to carvings, sculpture, costume and varied handicrafts in a stunning setting with ocean and mountain views.

Permanent displays: Visitors can admire a host of Northwest Coast First Nations art on permanent display, in addition to temporary international exhibitions, ranging from contemporary art to photography.

Location: 6393 NW Marine Dr, Vancouver V6T 1Z2

Website: moa.ubc.ca

Telephone: 604-827-5932

Centre A

Description: Centre A, The Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, represents contemporary Asian art.

Permanent displays: In the Centre A gallery, you’ll find works from a variety of Asian artists and you can tour the reading room, which houses an extensive collection of Asian art books.

Location: 229 E. Georgia St., Vancouver

Website: centrea.org

Telephone: 604-683-8326

Blogger who has lived the experience:

Sam Knopp of Artists Walking Home

Two Rivers Gallery


Description: Completed in June 2000, the Two Rivers Gallery is a hub for visual art in Prince George, and for the surrounding area. The Prince George Regional Art Gallery Association runs the gallery.

Permanent displays: The gallery is home to contemporary Canadian artwork. You can even browse the collection through the gallery’s website.

Location: 725 Canada Games Way, Prince George

Website: tworiversartgallery.com

Telephone: 250-614-7800

Artique Gallery

Description: This venue is a co-operative gallery, showcasing the works of more than 20 local artists. This is your chance to explore, and purchase, beautiful works from local artisans. View abstract landscapes, hand-carved decorations and much more.

Location: 4722 Marine Ave, Powell River, BC V8A 2L4

Website: artiquebc.ca

Telephone: 604-485-4837 ‎

Malaspina Art Society

Description: The Malaspina Art Society is committed to ensuring that their collection will grow to a substantial and important body of works, representing visual arts of the Sunshine Coast. MAS is a place for celebrating and fostering artistic growth in not only Powell River, but the surrounding region.

Permanent displays: The Malaspina Exhibition Centre (MEC) currently hosts 11 exhibitions each year. It is also home to a permanent collection which was founded in 1999 by a generous donation by Ontario artist, Michael Dobson.

Location: 100-7085 Nootka Street Powell River V8A 3C6

Website: artpowellriver.com

Gibsons Public Art Gallery

Description: Located in the heart of historic Gibsons, BC, Gibsons Public Art Gallery is part of a lively arts and heritage community that supports five outstanding commercial galleries, several artists’ studios, a heritage museum and this public non-profit art gallery.

Location: 431 Marine Drive, Gibsons

Website: gpag.ca

Telephone: 604-886-0531

Headbones Gallery

Credit: Headbones Gallery

Description: The Headbones Gallery is the place to be for the contemporary art enthusiast visiting the Okanagan Valley. Be sure to check out the monthly exhibitions, as well.

Permanent displays: The gallery features drawings, paintings and sculptures by artists from the local region, Canada, the US and Europe. There is also a Drawer’s Gallery that features original works on paper.

Location: 6700 Old Kamloops Road, Vernon

Website: headbonesgallery.com

Telephone: 250-542-8987

Eagle Aerie Gallery

Description: Admittedly, this artist-owned gallery is no museum, but it would be criminal not to make our round-up. Roy Henry Vickers’ gallery is a Tofino landmark, attracting visitors and admirers from around the globe. He is counted among Canada’s most prominent First Nations artists and his Northwest Coast inspired art has been gifted to world leaders.

Location: 350 Campbell Street, Tofino

Website: royhenryvickers.com/the_gallery

Telephone: 250-725-3235

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