Considered Canada’s premier art gallery, a visit to the National Gallery of Canada was a must for me when in Ottawa and I was very impressed. I spent around four hours exploring the vast collection. The building itself is stunning and makes an impact on first glimpse – particularly due to the ominous presence of Louise Bourgeois’ huge spider sculpture ‘Maman’ beside the main entrance.
The layout of the gallery is easy to navigate. I began my visit on Level 2 which features art from the Renaissance to the Contemporary, European and American. On this floor is where you will find Marc Chagall’s La Tour Eiffel, the painting the gallery had controversially decided to sell but had to reverse its decision due to the uproar. On Level 1 you will find the gallery’s fantastic collection of Canadian and Indigenous art, more Contemporary, and temporary exhibitions – current exhibitions include the Sobey Art Award Exhibition, featuring the work of 5 short-listed artists – I loved Jordan Bennett’s ‘Ice Fishing’ installation – and Anthropocene, which ‘explore(s) the impact of human activity on Earth through photography, film installations and interactive technologies’, according to the gallery website. This thought-provoking exhibition features work from Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier.
I also loved ‘The Forty Part Motet’, the sound installation by Janet Cardiff, in the perfect setting of the Rideau Chapel. You could hear the music from this exhibition when seated in the Fred and Elizabeth Fountain Garden Court, which made it a sublimely peaceful place for a break from all the artistic stimulation.
All the staff were friendly and polite, and a few guides were present in the galleries happy to talk to visitors about particular artworks. I had a lovely chat with a local lady who was keen to explain/discuss the three Gustav Klimt paintings in the collection. You are welcome to photograph the gallery and the majority of the artwork which is also nice, with the exception of a few pieces which indicate they may not be photographed on their signage.
Highlights from my visit October 2018: