Things to do in Vancouver

Vancouver Art Galleries: A Guide to the City's Most Artistic Wonders

Immerse yourself in Vancouver's art galleries, where paintings speak volumes and sculptures hold history in their palms.

Rain City might be known for its postcard views, but there’s an entire ocean of depth beneath its Instagram-worthy facade. Have you ever seen a rainbow dance with a thunderstorm? That’s the dreamy energy you can expect from Vancouver’s galleries.

Art feeds passionate debate, leaving you exhilarated, electrified, or pensive. Exploring these galleries unearths the city's subversive streak. Here, social commentary meets breathtaking beauty. If you're looking for things to do in Vancouver, look no further.

Exhibitions are chronicles of Canada’s past, present, and future. Step inside and explore Indigenous traditions. Learn about immigrant struggles. Discover the shared environmental concerns that underpin Vancouver's artistic identity.

Art lovers, prepare to enter a world of interactive exhibits, performance art, and new media. Watch the lines between observer and participant blur, and revel in pure intellectual stimulation.

Contemporary Art Galleries

Contemporary artists reflect our modern world. They might create an evocative installation, a provocative video, or a harrowing painting. Experience the scene in warehouses or open studios where you can chat with artists and observe their processes.

Vancouver offers a welcoming environment for those who want to explore art that dares to be different. It's a city that encourages asking questions. People try to see the world from various perspectives, and contemporary art is right there, fanning the flames of knowledge.

1. Contemporary Art Gallery

At the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver's creative pulse beats strong. It rests on the ancestral land of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Step inside and escape into intriguing works that question accepted norms.

Exhibits include: If I hadn't created my own world, I would have died in someone else's by Diane Severin Nguyen and The land that used to be by Maureen Gruben.

The gallery regularly hosts artist talks, curatorial tours, and other special events to help make the world a freer, more engaged place. We love this gallery’s commitment to transcending the familiar and learning from different perspectives.

2. Monte Clark Gallery

Monte Clark Gallery champions Canadian and international artists. Paintings take center stage here. The gallery puts particular focus on establishing Canada’s place within the contemporary art scene.

You’ll also find photography, drawings, sculptures, videos, and installations. The exhibits are set against a minimalist backdrop that lets the artwork shine. This gallery is thoughtfully curated. Notably, the exhibits highlight the interplay between historical and modern works.

The museum showcases tangible insight into social change by placing the old and the new close together. The context and depth this can bring to your worldview are nothing short of poetic. Featured artists include Jeff Wall, Emily Hermant, and Jim Goldberg.

3. Catriona Jeffries

Catriona Jeffries is the city's contemporary art community hub. The gallery was instrumental in the success of Vancouver artists, such as Brian Jungen. He's known for multimedia sculptures that explore themes such as cultural identity and alienation.

The gallery also helped propel Geoffrey Farmer’s career. He’s a multimedia virtuoso whose work gives form to elements of pop culture, history, and literature. Other artists represented by the gallery include Ian Wallace, Tanya Lukin Linklater, and Rochelle Goldberg.

This unassuming gray building was once a warehouse for auto parts. It might not have the dazzle factor of the big top from afar, but the art inside is life-changing.

4. Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Centre A was founded by Hank Bull, Zheng Shengtian, and Stephanie Holmquist. Situated in the heart of Vancouver's Chinatown, its mission is to celebrate Asian art as seen through a Canadian lens.

The gallery shows many established and emerging Asian and Asian-diasporic artists. One example is Chris Hamamoto's and Federico Pérez Villoro's Unseen Garden. This interactive digital project uses time-lapse images to explore the relationship between sight and language in our technology-driven world.

Occasionally, passionate artists and curators give talks that provide insights into current exhibitions.

5. Equinox Gallery

Equinox Gallery specializes in the long-term representation of Canadian creatives. Artists include Angela Grossmann, whose paintings and collages tackle themes of gender identity and displacement. You can also explore Bobbie Burgers' beguiling works. Her distinctive style reflects nature’s ability to transform decay into new life.

This gallery doesn't just show amazing art. It helps talented folks grow their careers and ensures everyone knows their names. Art fairs are Equinox Gallery's secret weapons for spreading the word. It packs up a selection of its most dazzling works and takes them on adventures worldwide, bringing local artists to a wider audience.

6. Bau-Xi Gallery

Bau-Xi Gallery strongly emphasizes emerging and under-recognized contemporary artists. Here can find various art forms, including painting, sculpture, photography, and new media.

Among its featured artists is David T. Alexander. He’s known for mesmerizing landscape paintings that captivate with layers of color and texture. Another is Erin Armstrong. Her dynamic acrylic paintings explore themes of identity and human connection.

Bau-Xi Gallery remains a cornerstone of Canada's fine art scene through its open-minded approach and dedication to excellence.

Photographer: Christian Wiediger

7. CityScape Community ArtSpace

CityScape Community ArtSpace is a unique public exhibition space created through the collaboration between the City of North Vancouver and North Van Arts. It aims to bridge diverse cultures and build strong communities through art. We love that this interactive space favors a collaborative approach.

All exhibits are group-based rather than solo, just like our shows. The exhibits also require that all featured works include an interactive element. You don’t just come here to observe passively. You’re an active participant, weaving the artists’ narrative and insights with your life’s tapestry.

Exhibits include the Art Rental Show, a salon-style expo featuring the work of more than 150 artists, and Parvin Peivandi's, Marina Roy's, and Helena Wadsley’s Unbearable Labor of Being.

8. Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art

Want a groundbreaking experience? The Gordon & Marion Smith Foundation houses the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art. Named after the much-loved eponymous artist, it continues his lifework of mentoring kids. One of his primary goals was to share the transformative power of art with young people. Since 2012, the gallery has done just that.

It offers art enrichment opportunities to Vancouver’s little ones, igniting a lifelong passion for crafting and creating in the next generation’s minds. If you prefer consuming your art digitally, you can take a virtual tour of the fascinating exhibits from the comfort of your home.

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9. Ian Tan Gallery

Wander over to the Ian Tan Gallery and get inspired. It's where painting, sculpture, photography, and mixed media tell a thousand stories. Focusing on West Coast artists ensures a strong representation of the local British Columbia art scene.

See Kevin Lanthier's Vancouver Specials II within the bright, airy space. His photography series starkly juxtaposes nature with man-made structures. If you prefer paintings, you can ponder Krista Johnson's Reoccurring Daydream. Her works play with color and light, celebrating nature’s luminosity in all its glory.

10. Art Works Gallery

A block away from The Drive in East Vancouver, Art Works Gallery represents contemporary artists across various mediums and styles.

It specializes in Canadian art but shows pieces from around North America. Opened in 1986 by Deanna Geisheimer, the gallery serves art lovers, corporate clients, designers, architects, and the film industry with equal enthusiasm.

Gallery artists include Dalyn Berryman, whose wooden spindling sculptures defy gravity with the grace of a dancer. Carole Arnston is another artist represented by Art Works. Her beautifully blurry paintings remind us of the space between wakefulness and sleep.

Indigenous Artwork

Vancouver's Indigenous art is rich and meaningful. It shows the connection to the land, the strength of Indigenous communities, and the complexity of history.

Step into this world and discover visionaries such as Susan Point, an artist renowned for her captivating argillite carvings, or Christi Belcourt, whose visual works explore themes of identity and reconciliation. It's a living, breathing dialogue, inviting you to engage with stories passed down through generations.

11. Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery

Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery showcases contemporary and traditional artwork by Indigenous and Inuit artists—unearth exquisite pieces, including totem poles, masks, jewelry, and prints.

The gallery is a bastion of cultural significance, offering a platform for established and emerging artists. It’s given a voice to trailblazers such as Bill Reid, renowned for his masterful modern take on Haida artistry. Come here to let your curiosity run wild.

Photographer: CecilJames

12. Marion Scott Gallery

Marion Scott Gallery platforms contemporary Inuit art from the Canadian Arctic. Stepping into this Vancouver gallery is like entering a portal into the rich artistic traditions of Canada's Inuit communities.

In a past exhibit, Two Women Sculptors, curators showed works by Elizabeth Nutaraaluk Aulatjut and Oviloo Tunnillie. Observing their works side by side offered an unparalleled glimpse into Inuit culture and femininity’s place within it. Visit the gallery’s website for rousing artist talks, panel discussions, and free multimedia exhibits.

Visual Arts

Visual art is like a secret language where colors, shapes, and textures represent emotions, thoughts, and ideas. It might be designed to make you feel something, or the artist simply thinks it looks awesome.

Next time you see a painting, sculpture, or even a cool building, remember — that's visual art in action. It's a giant box of creativity overflowing into reality. We love taking inspiration from visual art collections when storm clouds set in. And boy, this city is set up for rainy days! There’s plenty to explore, even on a wet autumn day in Vancouver.

Photographer: Pixabay

13. Elissa Cristall Gallery

Elissa Cristall Gallery promotes Canadian artists and aims to give visitors a deeper understanding of art. It does this through curated exhibitions, including solo and group shows, and inviting guest artists to share their views.

In 2020, the gallery launched the Artist Spotlight Project, a series of online interviews and exhibitions that spotlight unsung talent. View Jessica Korderas’ haunting cartoon-like pieces and Randall Steeves’ subversive abstract paintings here.

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Conceptual Art

Imagine a world where the wildest ideas become art. Conceptual art isn’t about how pretty something is. It's about the mind-bending thoughts it sparks. Instead of a fancy painting, you might see a pile of dirt titled Earth or an unmade bed.

Conceptual artists are the wacky scientists of the art world. They use various tools to make their points, including photos, texts, performances, and everyday objects. These artists might challenge what we think of as art, make us question the world around us, or just plant weird and wonderful ideas in our heads.

14. Or Gallery

Founded as a project space by artist Laiwan, Or Gallery is a Vancouver institution dedicated to conceptual and experimental art. The gallery’s artist-run structure still endures, blurring the lines between creation and curation.

Over the years, the gallery has featured prominent Canadian figures such as Dana Claxton, whose work explores Indigenous identity. Stan Douglas, known for his poignant observational art, has also been featured here.

Vancouver's Artistic Tapestry: Unveiling the City's Gallery Gems

Never mind an umbrella. It’s raining creativity in Vancouver. Explore galleries bursting with color, meaning, and stories passed down through generations.

From thought-provoking contemporary art to captivating Indigenous works, there's a gallery waiting to soothe your soul. If you have your fill of art but are keen on even more culture, spend an afternoon exploring Vancouver museums.

While you're in town, come see one of our shows. They're like live art exhibits — not paintings on a wall, but a stage transformed into a breathtaking canvas. Performers move like brushstrokes through the air. Their bodies form impossible shapes against a glowing backdrop.

Our shows are a mesmerizing blend of athleticism, artistry, and imagination. Snag a seat at one of our shows in Vancouver to experience the visceral excitement for yourself.

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