Designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, Ottawa’s glass-and-granite National Gallery of Canada showcases an exquisite art collection. As well as an extensive display of European and Canadian art including an assortment of indigenous artworks, the museum also houses the reconstructed 19th-century Rideau Street Convent Chapel.
The National Gallery of Canada is one of the country’s premier cultural institutions and a hugely popular Ottawa visitor attraction. Bike tours and amphibus tours (over land and water) often take participants past the museum to see Louise Bourgeois’ huge bronze spider sculpture, Maman, which stands outside.
To explore inside the museum, purchase an admission ticket over the phone, online, or at the box office. Opt to explore independently or with the aid of an audio guide. Special talks (including a daily 10-minute docent-led talk on a single artwork), lectures, and family-oriented arts and crafts workshops also take place here.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The National Gallery of Canada is a must-visit for art lovers, and for anyone with an interest in Canadian cultural heritage.
- The National Gallery is entirely accessible to wheelchair users.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be on your feet for much of the visit.
How to Get There
The National Gallery of Canada is located near the intersection of St. Patrick Street and Sussex Drive in Ottawa. Walking, it is fewer than 15 minutes from Parliament Hill and fewer than 10 minutes from ByWard Market. You can also bike there via the Capital Pathway network. Underground parking is available.
When to Get There
The museum is open daily from May through September; October through April, it is closed on Mondays. The National Gallery is busiest during the peak summer tourist months of July and August. Year-round, weekdays are quieter than weekends. On Thursday evenings from 5pm to 8pm, access to the national collection is free.
What to Expect from the Collection
Inside the National Gallery, thousands of pieces from the museum’s 65,000-strong collection are on show, including works by renowned Canadian artists such as the Group of Seven and the Montreal-born, early–20th-century landscape artist James Wilson Morrice. Also strongly represented are influential European artists, such as Marcel Duchamp, the avant-garde French conceptual artist who shook up the art world with his 1917 work Fountain, which consisted simply of an upside-down urinal signed “R. Mutt, 1917.”