Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

Maud Lewis Halifax, Nova Scotia Enlarge
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.JPG
Exterior facade of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia's Dominion building in Halifax
Established1908; 112 years ago (1908)
Location1723 Hollis Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Coordinates44°38′52.83″N 63°34′21.54″W / 44.6480083°N 63.5726500°W / 44.6480083; -63.5726500Coordinates: 44°38′52.83″N 63°34′21.54″W / 44.6480083°N 63.5726500°W / 44.6480083; -63.5726500
TypeArt museum
Visitors45,455 (2017)[2]
DirectorNancy Noble[1]
CuratorDavid Diviney (Senior Curator)[3]

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) is a public provincial art museum based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The art museum's primary building complex is located in downtown Halifax, and takes up approximately 6,200 square metres (67,000 sq ft) of space. The museum complex is made up of the former Dominion building, and two floors of the adjacent Provincial building. In addition to its main museum complex in Halifax, the museum also operates a satellite branch in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

The museum was established in 1908 as the Nova Scotia Museum of Fine Arts, and was later renamed the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in 1975. The museum moved into the Dominion building in 1988, and expanded the museum complex in 1998. In 2006, the museum opened a satellite branch in Yarmouth.

The museum's permanent collection has over 18,000 works by Nova Scotian, Canadian, and international artists. Its collection is exhibited in its main location in Halifax, as well as its satellite branch in Yarmouth. In addition to exhibiting works from its permanent collection, the museum has also organized, and hosted a number of travelling arts exhibitions.


The art museum was founded as the Nova Scotia Museum of Fine Arts in 1908, in order to house the 200 works of the Crown of Nova Scotia.[4][5] It was renamed the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in 1975.[4] During the museum's early history, the museum's collection, and its exhibits, moved between several locations, including at one point, in the gunpowder magazine of Citadel Hill.[5]

Access point to the museum at the Dominion building. The museum moved into the building in 1988.

In 1988, the museum moved to the Dominion Building,[5] opened in 1867 and designed by architects David Stirling and William Hay. The museum expanded its building in 1998 to include two floors of the Provincial Building located just to the south of Dominion Building.[4][5] The two structures are separated by Ondaatje Court, a public space that besides being used for temporary exhibitions, contains several large permanent sculptures. Underneath the courtyard is a large underground exhibition room which connects the two buildings. During the building expansion, work was done to accommodate the home of Maud Lewis into the museum building.[5] Following that expansion, the museum's complex has 6,200 square metres (67,000 sq ft) of space, although only 19,500 square feet (1,810 m2) of it is used as exhibition space.[6]

In 1999, plans were announced by the Government of Nova Scotia to built a satellite branch of the museum in southwestern Nova Scotia.[7] On the 28 May 2006, the institution opened a satellite branch of the museum in Yarmouth, a municipality in southwest Nova Scotia.[8] The satellite branch, branded as the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Western Branch, provides additional exhibition space to exhibit works from the museum's permanent collection.[8] The satellite branch building is housed in a former Royal Bank of Canada building built in 1913, and required renovations to expand its floor space by 900 square metres (9,700 sq ft).[7]

In 2008, the museum published a report that recommended the construction of a new museum building, citing its present downtown building as "seriously inadequate".[9] The museum's administration also noted that the building's lack of climate control, and the region's weather has also made it difficult to preserve works at the location.[9]

In March 2018, a feasibility study was completed that recommended that the museum, along with the post-secondary art school, NSCAD University, move to a new "cultural hub".[10] However, when the museum announced its plans to build a 13,000 square metres (140,000 sq ft) building in April 2019, it did not include joint-facilities with the art school. The proposed building was located at Bishop's Landing, bounded by Lower Water Street, Salter Street, and the Halifax Boardwalk.[11] The cost to build the building is estimated to range between C$130 million to C$140 million, with the majority of it paid by the provincial government.[11] The provincial government has committed C$80 million, while the Government of Canada committed C$30 million.[11] In addition to government funds, the museum has been tasked with raising C$30 million from public and private donors for the construction of the new building.[11]

Permanent collection

The restored Maud Lewis Home on display at the museum

As of March 2019, the museum had over 18,000 works in its permanent collection.[12] More than 2,000 Nova Scotian, Canadian, and other non-Canadian artists have works in the museum's permanent collection.[13] Acquisitions for the museum's permanent collection are reviewed by the museum's Curatorial Committee, which includes curatorial and conservation staff; before being assessed by the museum's direct, Chief Curator, and the Curator of Collections.[14] Further approval is then required from the museum's Acquisition Committee, made up of local artists, community members, and members of the museum's Board of Governors, before it is presented to the Board of Goverors itself for final approval.[14]

As of June 2017, the museum had 55 works by Maud Lewis,[15] making the museum's collection the world's largest public collection of works by her.[16] The works are exhibited at the Maud Lewis exhibit, and is the most visited exhibition space in the museum according to the institution.[16] In addition to works by Lewis, the museum's collection also includes her house. Lewis's house was purchased by the Government of Nova Scotia after her death.[17] In 1996, the museum took possession of the home, moving the small building into its Maud Lewis exhibit, along with some restoration work.[18]

In June 2013, the museum acquired a collection of 2,070 images by photographer Annie Leibovitz in June 2013.[19][20] The Leibovitz collection was donated to the museum by the Mintz family, after they acquired it for C$4.7 million.[20] It includes 1,307 editioned prints, and 763 vintage file prints, with the earliest image dating to 1983.[19] However, while the museum maintains ownership of the collection, its copyright is still held by the artist, pending a payment dispute between the donors, certification board, and artist.[20][21]

The museum's collection also features works from a number of First Nations artists, including Kent Monkman.[22] Miss Chief's Wet Dream, a 3.5 by 7 metres (11 by 23 ft) acrylic-on-canvas painting by Monkman, is among the largest works in the museum's permanent collection.[22]

Selected works

See also


  1. ^ "Board of Governors". Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. 2019. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Performance Scorecard 2016-2017" (PDF). Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Annual Accountability Report for the Fiscal Year 2016-2017. Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. 2017. p. 10. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  3. ^ "Contact". Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. 2019. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "About". Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e Mandel, Charles (1 December 2008). "What do you get a gallery for its 100th?". The Globe and Mail. The Woodbridge Company. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  6. ^ "The Need for New Facilities" (PDF). Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University Co-Location Facility and Feasibility Study. Lord Cultural Resources. March 2018. p. 2. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Gallery Expands Into Southwest". Queen's Printer for Nova Scotia. 28 May 1999. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  8. ^ a b Crôteau, Camille Dubois (26 May 2016). "#TBT To the opening of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia's Yarmouth location back in May 2006!". Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Art gallery mulls new Halifax home". CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 24 April 2011. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  10. ^ "Plan to move NSCAD, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia to waterfront 'cultural hub'". CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d "New art gallery on Halifax waterfront comes with estimated $140-million price tag". Toronto Star. Torstar Corporation. 18 April 2019. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  12. ^ "Art Gallery of Nova Scotia" (PDF). Budget 2019-20: Crown Corporation Business Plans. Government of Nova Scotia. March 2019. p. 4. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Permanent Collection". Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Acquisitions". Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  15. ^ Stamberg, Susan (19 June 2017). "Home Is Where The Art Is: The Unlikely Story Of Folk Artist Maud Lewis". National Public Radio. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  16. ^ a b Cooke, Alex (17 February 2019). "Nova Scotia honours beloved folk artist Maud Lewis for Heritage Day". CTV News. BellMedia. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  17. ^ Southcott, Jerri (16 August 2017). "From erasers to prints, Maud Lewis merchandise snapped up at AGNS". CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  18. ^ Kenins, Laura (1 March 2019). "Think you know the story of Maud Lewis? Two Nova Scotia artists want you to reconsider the myth". CBC Arts. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  19. ^ a b "Annie Leibovitz photo collection donated to Halifax gallery". CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  20. ^ a b c Willick, Frances (29 March 2019). "Tiny new legislative tweak may have prevented Leibovitz debacle". CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  21. ^ "N.S. art gallery holds 'very productive' talks with Annie Leibovitz, renewed hope photos could be exhibited". Global News. Corus Entertainment Inc. 25 January 2019. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  22. ^ a b Meloney, Nic (1 November 2018). "Kent Monkman's 'Miss Chief's Wet Dream' finds a home in Halifax". CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 21 November 2019.