Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
History and museums
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is a Canadian art gallery located in Victoria, British Columbia. Opened in 1951, the gallery possesses notable works by artists such as Emily Carr, and has one of Canada's most significant collections of Asian art. An Asian garden located on the gallery grounds includes the only authentic Japanese Shinto shrine in North America.
The modern Art Gallery addition is connected to a Victorian era home known as Gyppeswyk, built in 1889 for the Green family. When Cary Castle, the original Government House, was destroyed by fire in 1903, Gyppeswyck served briefly as the residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.
When it first opened in 1951, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria exhibited art in the historic 1889 mansion that is now adjacent to its seven modern galleries. With almost 17,000 works of art, the Art Gallery has the largest public collection in BC and is a vibrant and active part of Victoria's artist community.
Designed by William Ridgeway Wilson, the Spencer Mansion was built in 1889. The property originally stretched from Fort Street to Rockland Avenue and incorporated formal gardens, two tennis courts, stables and a coach house. The crowning feature, the belvedere, commands an inspiring view of the ocean. The Mansion was donated in 1951 by Miss Sarah Spencer to become the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
The exhibition gallery spaces were originally added on to the Spencer Mansion between 1955 and 1978. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria presents a diverse assortment of exhibitions including showcases of its own Canadian, historical and world-class Asian collection, as well as the creation, commissioning and hosting of contemporary exhibitions. On permanent display is the work of British Columbia's foremost historical artist Emily Carr.
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is home to one of Canada's most important Asian art collections, second only to the Royal Ontario Museum. The collection of amber and ivory carvings is one of the largest in North America. The Gallery's collection has grown under the careful watch of internationally recognized Asian Curator, Barry Till. Several impressive objets d'art are on permanent exhibition including a grand Chinese Bell, cast in 1641 during the Ming dynasty that was presented to the City of Victoria in 1903. A popular attraction, it hung in Beacon Hill Park until 1989, when it came to the Art Gallery to ensure its long-term preservation. The Gallery's Asian Garden boasts the only authentic Japanese Shinto Shrine in North America. It is a fine example of the architecture of a Meiji period Shinto Shrine, now situated among bamboo and Japanese maples.