From the grandeur of the National Gallery of Canada to the intimacy of artist-run shops, the arts and culture scene in Canada’s Capital is rich and diverse. You can now also access the most comprehensive display ever presented of historic and contemporary works associated with the Ottawa region! The newly expanded and impressively-designed Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) in downtown Ottawa provides free access to all of its galleries, plus an inviting restaurant, bar and boutique. Reserve an afternoon or an entire day to see this gem of a space!
Gallery spaces and exhibits
The OAG has more than 55,000 square feet of permanent and programmable spaces spread out over five expansive floors. Stop by the information desk on the main level near the Jackson café to get helpful tips and a floor map before starting your OAG journey.
The centrepiece of the OAG’s collection is the gallery dedicated to the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art (FCCA) which includes works by the Group of Seven – definitely a must-see! Other gallery spaces display the OAG’s Permanent Collection as well as historical, contemporary and touring exhibitions. A studio space is used for school and youth programs, artist-led and community-led workshops, and intimate screenings. Keep an eye on the OAG’s programming calendar for details.
Restaurant, bar and patio
For a complete artsy experience, why not unwind at the on-site restaurant and bar, Jackson, which is named after A.Y. Jackson – one of the artists in the Group of Seven who spent time in Ottawa. The talented team behind Ottawa’s popular Restaurant el8hteen and SIDEDOOR present art-inspired, locally-sourced cuisine along with wine, local craft beer and cocktails. Located on the main level off Daly Avenue, the casual yet sophisticated space includes a convenient grab-and-go counter as well as patio seating in the warmer months!
The OAG Shop is a unique gallery boutique committed to supporting regional and Canadian makers and artists. Browse art supplies, artwork, crafts, jewellery, toys and other items that have Canadian and Indigenous roots. Perfect options for gifts or souvenirs!
For the ultimate memento, why not rent or buy a piece of art from the OAG? Visit Galerie Annexe, OAG’s commercial space, alongside the OAG Shop, to view some of the available art, or browse the OAG’s website to view the entire collection.
Art + city design
The new OAG was designed to represent the intersection of art and city – a theme befitting its location in the culturally vibrant area of Downtown Rideau, near the historic ByWard Market neighbourhood and the Rideau Centre. The expanded OAG also blends well with its new and modern neighbours, the Le Germain Hotel Ottawa and ArtHaus condominiums, and with the adjacent historic municipal Arts Court space.
Elements of the design were inspired by O.J. and Isobel Firestone, a prominent Ottawa couple who donated their family home and their collection of Canadian art. A brass and marble grand staircase salvaged from their home has been integrated in the OAG’s main lobby. Warm accents of wood used throughout the building are also a nod to the Firestones’ style and the use of natural light and open spaces – uncommon in gallery design – create a welcoming and airy feel.
Outdoor spaces offer form and function. A luminous cube, the building lights up at night to illuminate the city scape. And during warmer months, visitors can relax on the restaurant patio as well as on terraces located in gallery and event spaces – some of which even feature views of Parliament’s Peace Tower!
The OAG building is proudly certified LEED Silver since it features certain environmentally-friendly and sustainable elements. Green designations are uncommon for galleries due to the strict storage and display guidelines required.
Location, accessibility (and even childcare!)
Getting to and around the OAG are both a breeze. The OAG is surrounded by major public transit stops, limited on-site parking and parkades located nearby.
There are several convenient access points to enter the building: 50 Mackenzie King Bridge and 2 Daly Avenue; as well as an interior connection from the Arts Court building.
All OAG entrances, galleries and venues are fully accessible, ensuring a barrier-free environment for all visitors. In addition, washrooms are gender neutral. All information is available in both English and French.
One unique service offered by the OAG is free childcare during specific periods including Wednesdays from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and during exhibition opening receptions. What more can you ask for?
Looking for more homegrown art? Explore some of the highlights of Ottawa’s vibrant urban arts scene in neighbourhoods throughout the city.