Discover the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa

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Michael Belmore’s Lost Bridal Veil in the atrium.
Michael Belmore’s Lost Bridal Veil in the atrium.

By Diana Condolo

The National Gallery of Canada is a stunning building of granite and glass designed by famed architect Moshe Safdie. It is such a cool design that I had to look up his other designs for a closer look at his prolific repertoire (you may want to as well). The huge spider sculpture in front of the gallery carries 26 white marble eggs in its underbelly and stands 9.25 metres tall. This massive structure enhances the plaza to the gallery and looks just fabulous aside the gallery. I’ve heard some say that it resembles a scene from War of the Worlds. What do you think of the juxtaposition?

Called Maman, this is one of the six spiders cast by renowned Franco-American artist Louise Bourgeois at the National Gallery of Canada.
Called Maman, this is one of the six spiders cast by renowned Franco-American artist Louise Bourgeois as a tribute to her mother.

Inside the Gallery, you’ll discover one of the greatest art institutions in the world. It’s home to more than 40,000 works of art (by over 6,000 artists), home to the most comprehensive collection of Canadian art, including a large number by the Group of Seven, and strong collections of Indigenous, Asian, and International works.

One of the Gallery’s most beautiful spaces is the Michael and Sonja Koerner Family Atrium, which features a glass-bottomed pool and soaring skylights. The area is filled with sculptures and plenty of seating, a perfect place to contemplate art.

Michael Belmore’s Lost Bridal Veil in the atrium.
Michael Belmore’s Lost Bridal Veil in the atrium.

Soothing green space in a quiet courtyard at the National Gallery of Canada.
Soothing green space in a quiet courtyard is another place to chill.

I absolutely loved the art collection and used their audio-guide to provide me with more information about the paintings and discover the story behind some of the pieces.

I always find René Magritte intriguing. He created a series of paintings based on well-known paintings by French artists, but he substituted coffins for the people in the original paintings. You can read more about René Magritte’s paintings here.

Perspective: Madame Récamier by David by René Magritte.
Perspective: Madame Récamier by David by René Magritte.

There was an area devoted just to painting in Quebec and I appreciated seeing the difference in style. In contrast to the Group of Seven, many Quebec artists of the late 1920s and 1930s chose to paint landscapes exploring rural life, rather than the wilderness.

Traditional rural life of Quebec painting at the National Gallery of Canada
Traditional rural life of Quebec

There is so much to see at the National Gallery of Canada. If you like to take your time, you could spend a day here. The light, spacious galleries and quiet courtyards await you as you discover the extraordinary collections.

You may also want to visit the Canadian Museum of History while you’re in Ottawa. Have a read of my blog post on the Canadian Museum of History.

National Gallery of Canada

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