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National Gallery of Canada - Musée des beaux-arts du Canada
Gallery History
The National Gallery of Canada, a visual arts museum of international stature, holds its collections of art in trust for all Canadians. The mandate of the National gallery, as set out in the 1990 Museums Act is: to develop, maintain and make known, throughout Canada and internationally, a national collection of works of art, historic and contemporary, with special but not exclusive reference to Canada; and to further knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of art in general among all Canadians.
  The Governor General, the Marquess of Lorne, inaugurates the first (6 March) official exhibition of the Royal Canadian Academy and launches the National Gallery of Canada at the Clarendon Hotel in Ottawa. Each Academician agrees to deposit a diploma work with the Government to form the nucleus of the new Gallery's collection. Sunrise on the Saguenay (1880), by the first President of the Royal Canadian Academy Lucius O'Brien (1832-1899), is among these diploma works.
  The Gallery moves into the first of its four temporary homes, a remodelled two-room workshop on Parliament Hill; it shares quarters with the Supreme Court of Canada.
  First European works are acquired: Gulf of Naples (1875) by Vilhelm Melbye, gift of Allan Gilmour, Ottawa (1882), and Sansone (c. 1858) by Frederick Lord Leighton (1830-1896), gift of the artist (1883).
Publication of the first catalogue of the collection of the National Gallery (6 pages)
  First purchase: With Dolly at the Sabot-makers (1883) by Canadian William Brymner (1855-1925).
  National Gallery is transferred to rooms above the Government Fisheries Exhibit on O'Connor Street. Collections are increased through gifts and deposit of diploma works by Canadian Academicians.
  A Venetian Bather (1889) by Paul Peel (1860-1892), the first work by a deceased Canadian artist, is acquired.
  The first historical European painting is purchased: The Death of Nelson (c. 1820-1835) by George Philip Reinagle (1802-1835).
  Eric Brown is appointed as the Gallery's first full-time curator.
  The Old Master drawings collection begins with purchase of 17 works from the Duke of Rutland's collection.
Canadian etchings are acquired. The prints and drawings department formed.
The Gallery is transferred to three floors of the Victoria Memorial Museum, Metcalfe Street, sharing space with the Department of Mines and the Geological Survey.
  Eric Brown is appointed Gallery Director; he died in office in April 1939.
  The first National Gallery of Canada Act is passed. An independent board of trustees is constituted, charged with "the development, maintenance, care and management of the National Gallery and generally the encouragement and cultivation of correct artistic taste and Canadian public interest in the fine arts, the promotion of the interests of art, in general, in Canada." The first chairman of the board of trustees is appointed: Sir Edmund Walker.
  The first works from the Gallery's collection are placed on extended loan to Winnipeg, Hamilton and St. John, N.B. Plans for national touring exhibitions are developed.
The Red Maple, painted in 1914 by A.Y. Jackson (1892-1974) is acquired the same year.
  The Gallery closes; works in the collection are put in storage (because of the fire in 1916, Parliament required the Gallery space in the Victoria Memorial Museum).
  The Death of General Wolfe (1770), the first version by Benjamin West (1738-1820), is given to Canadian War Memorials by the Duke of Westminster and transferred to the National Gallery with the war collections in 1921.
The Jack Pine (1916-17) by Tom Thomson (1877-1917) is bought.
Sir Edmund Walker's influence as a print collector is crucial in launching the European print collection with works by Dürer, Rembrandt and Blake (1913-1924).
  The first travelling exhibition program, "The War Memorials," goes to Montreal and Toronto (works by A.Y. Jackson, David Milne, Wyndham Lewis, and Paul Nash).
  Lord Beaverbrook's Canadian Memorials are deposited with the Gallery (commissioned paintings by Canadian and British artists of Canadian participation in the first World War). This includes the portrait of the Mohawk chief of the Six Nations Indians, Joseph Brant (c. 1776) by George Romney (1734-1802).
  Sir Edmund Walker dies; Dr. F.J. Shepherd, art collector and Montréal surgeon, is appointed second Chairman of the Board.
Charles Ricketts (English artist and art critic) is appointed advisor for European paintings (until 1931)
  Vincent Massey is appointed as trustee of the Gallery; he served as Chairman from 1940 to 1952 until appointed Governor-General of Canada.
  Kathleen Fenwick is appointed curator of the collection of prints and drawings, a position she held until her death in 1973.
  Dr. Shepherd dies; H.S. Southam, publisher of The Ottawa Citizen and art collector, becomes third chairman of the board of trustees; he resigned in January 1948.
  The first films on art are bought by the Gallery for loan to other institutions.
  The Gallery's first large exhibition of international art organized: "French Painting of the Nineteenth Century."

An important exhibition to study the work of a deceased Canadian artist is mounted: "Paintings by Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-1872)."

  Eric Brown dies. Harry Orr McCurry is appointed director (he had been assistant director of the Gallery and the board of trustees' secretary for 20 years).

The Second World War almost closes the Gallery, but Mr. McCurry makes the Gallery a national rallying point for numerous artistic and social activities.

  The Gallery acquires five world-famous Cézanne paintings.
  Dr. James MacCallum bequeathes 134 Canadian works to the Gallery, most of them by the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson (1877-1917).
  The National Gallery Act replaces 1913 National Gallery of Canada Act.
  A Canadian architecture competition is announced to design a new Gallery building to be erected on Cartier Square.
  Heroine of the Old Testament by Rembrandt (1606-1669) and two works by Filippino Lippi (1457/1458-1504) are the first major European purchases from the Prince of Liechtenstein Collection.
  The competition for a new building is stopped, and a projected government office building, the Lorne Building on Elgin Street, is to be adapted for temporary use by the Gallery.
  H. Orr McCurry retires as Director.
Alan Jarvis sculptor, author, art critic, film producer, television commentator and head of Oxford House, England from 1950-1955 is appointed third Director.
  The production of fully illustrated collections catalogues is started.
  The National Gallery of Canada Association is founded (now Friends of the National Gallery).
  Governor-General Vincent Massey lays the cornerstone of the Lorne Building (named after National Gallery's founder, the Marquis of Lorne).
Alan Jarvis resigns (1 October).
  The Gallery moves to the Lorne Building.
Charles Comfort, then president of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, official war artist and professor at the University of Toronto, is appointed fourth Director.
The collection of British art is increased under the curatorship of Dr. Robert H. Hubbard.
  Charles Comfort retires.
  Dr. Jean Sutherland Boggs is appointed fifth Director.
The curatorial staff is expanded and re-organized; special Canadian and European art research positions are created; and a policy to collect American contemporary art is expanded.
  The collection of 19th and 20th century photographs as works of art begins (in 1990 there are approximately 17,400 photographs in the collection).
  The National Museums Act is passed, incorporating the Gallery, (1 April) the National Museum of Natural Sciences, the National Museum of Man and the National Museum of Science and Technology under a single board of trustees. The National Museums of Canada has as its first chairman Jean Ostiguy of Montréal. The board reports to Parliament through the Minister of Communications.
An advisory committee for the Gallery is set up and entrusted with certain powers of approval of purchases by the National Museums of Canada; the first chairman is J.R. Longstaffe, Vancouver.
  The War Collections (with a few exceptions) are transferred (5 October) to the Canadian War Museum.
  The annual acquisition budget is raised to $1.5 million.
  The sculpture Bust of Urban VIII by Bernini (1598-1680) is purchased.
  The second competition for a new building for the Gallery is won by the Parkin Partnership of Toronto.
  Dr. Jean Sutherland Boggs resigns; (July) Joseph Martin becomes acting Director for 6 months.
(20 December) Dr. Hsio-Yen Shih is appointed sixth Director.
  A gift of the Heerameneck Collection of Southeast Asian Art --Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan miniatures, paintings and sculptures (4th to 19th centuries) is presented by Max Tanenbaum, Toronto.
  The Henry Birks Collection of Canadian Silver is donated to the Gallery (12 December).
  Centenary of the Gallery's foundation.
A Royal Canadian Academy exhibition, "To found a National Gallery: The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts 1880-1913," travels to Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal.
The Gallery's Canadian collection is now the most comprehensive and important in existence.
  Dr. H.Y. Shih resigns (March 31). Michael Bell is appointed acting Director (1 April); he resigns 1 July that same year. (1 July) Joseph Martin is appointed acting Director for the second time.
  (18 February) Dr. Jean Sutherland Boggs is appointed executive chairman of the Canadian Museums Construction Corporation, responsible for the building of a new Gallery of Canada.
Phyllis Lambert gives the Gallery the world's most important collection of works by American photographer Walker Evans (December 6).
  The architectural firms of Moshe Safdie, Montréal, and Parkin Partnership, Toronto, are selected to design a new Gallery building.
Joseph Martin is appointed seventh Director (27 July).
The Gallery participates in the opening of the Vancouver Art Gallery (October) by lending 17 Canadian and 27 European works.
The architectural model and plans for the new Gallery building are unveiled (28 November); excavation begins on Sussex Drive. Moshe Safdie's models and plans are put on public display.
  Parliament changes the French version of the National Gallery of Canada's name La Galerie nationale du Canada to Le Musée des beaux-arts du Canada.
The compositional study for The Death of General Wolfe (1765) by Benjamin West (1738-1820) purchased under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act.
The National Gallery acquires The Virgin and Christ Child (c.1518-1520) by Flemish artist Bernard Van Orley (1487-1542). (November)
Minister of Communications Marcel Masse announces the creation of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography which will be affiliated with the Gallery. (December).
  Responsibility for the new Gallery building is transferred to the Department of Public Works (16 May).
  The last two major exhibitions are held in Lorne Building.
The first is "Vatican Splendour: Masterpieces of Baroque Art," (6 March- 11 May) an exhibition of the 17-th century masterpieces complementing the Gallery's own Baroque works. It marks the first time corporate support, by Northern Telecom and Alitalia, is given to an exhibition at the Gallery.
The second exhibition, "Songs of Experience," (2 May- September 1) features works by 15 contemporary Canadian artists.
The Gallery receives first part of a major gift of 11 suites of prints by Marc Chagall, (including 550 prints and 11 drawings from Felix Quinet. Gift completed in December 1990.
  The Gallery closes its doors at the Lorne Building (7 September), and begins preparations to move to the new building.
Dr. Shirley Thomson is appointed eighth Director (21 September).
  Opening by Her Excellency Mme Jeanne Sauvé Governor General of Canada of the new Gallery building at 380 Sussex Drive, Ottawa.
The Gallery starts charging admission fees (1 June).
The Gallery opens the first international exhibition in its new building, "Degas," (16 June -28 August) a major retrospective of the artist's work.
Loans moratorium lifted (September); the National and International Program is set to begin.
First volume of the Canadian permanent collection catalogue published and released (December).
  Move from the Lorne Building completed (March).
One-millionth visitor to the new Gallery (18 May) since its opening on 21 May 1988.
Purchase of Voice of Fire (1967) by Barnett Newman (1905-1970) finalized (August).
The Canadian Biennial of Contemporary Art opens (6 October); a cross-country series, the project is on hold.
The Gallery acquires the major gift of 84 paintings by James Wilson Morrice from G. Blair Laing, Toronto, valued at $15 million (December).

  Bill C-12, the Museums Act, receives Royal assent (30 January).
News coverage of the acquisition of Voice of Fire plunges the Gallery into controversy (7 March).
Gallery appearance before House of Commons Committee to defend its budget under the Main Estimates Part III
  The acquisition of Barnett Newman's Voice of Fire pre-empts the discussion.
Proclamation of the National Gallery of Canada as Crown Corporation and the appointment of a new board of trustees (1 July); they meet for the first time on 16 July.
  Gallery presented with the George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award for the Lisette Model catalogue (10 March).
Controversy erupts over Jana Sterbak's Vanitas, a work made of flank steak (1 April). The Gallery calls a media briefing on the work on 2 April.
The Gallery appears before the Standing Committee to discuss its budget, and among the issues raised is the Sterbak work (11 April).
The Canadian Centre for the Visual Arts (CCVA) is established with a mandate to foster research and training in the visual arts and in museology (April).
Gallery acquires the Guido Reni Jupiter and Europa (c.1636) for $3.45 million, the most the Gallery ever paid for a work of art (June).
  New permanent galleries for the collection of Inuit Art, on lower level below the Great Hall, are opened (26 February).
The Gallery and the Friends of the National Gallery sign a Memorandum of Understanding, transferring responsibility for membership to the Gallery (31 March). The Friends will continue as the volunteer cadre within the Membership.
Gallery acquires two works from the Workshop of Dieric Bouts (1420-1475): Mater Dolorosa (Sorrowing Virgin) and Christ Crowned with Thorns (March).
The Friends of the National Gallery donate $75,000 towards the refurbishing of the Inuit Galleries (15 April).
Gallery releases book on the building "A Place for Art: The Architecture of the National Gallery", by best-selling author and architect Witold Rybczynski (April).
Gallery installs two pieces of outdoor sculpture from the permanent collection: Traffic (1971) by Ed Zelenak and Homage to Samuel Beckett (1967) by Guido Molinari (May).
Mr. Jean-Claude Delorme appointed second Chairperson of the Board of Trustees; Mrs. Ruth Freiman is appointed Vice-Chairperson (23 June).
Gallery announces (5 July) new admission guidelines: free admission to the permanent collection, charges for special exhibitions, effective 20 October 1993.
Controversy erupts over purchase of No. 16 (1957) by Mark Rothko (1903-1970) for $1.8 million (15 July).
  National Gallery of Canada co-organizes major exhibition Egyptomania: Egypt in Western Art, 1730-1930, on view 17 June to 18 September.
The Gallery presents major retrospective on Canadian artist Roland Poulin: Sculpture from November 4 to 12 February 1995.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, the Gallery presents 1945-1995 Canada Remembers, a selection of paintings by Canadian artists, realized under the War Records program, from 15 December 1994 to Spring 1996.
  Dr. Colin Bailey assumes position of Chief Curator (January).
Gallery announces the acquisition of Georgia O'Keeffe's Lake George with Crows, 1921 by the generous gift of the Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation.
The National Gallery of Canada presents the international exhibition The Queen's Pictures: Old Masters from the Royal Collection, 23 June to 10 September, sponsored by the American Express Foundation.
The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation exhibition opens (Oct 13, 1995). It is the first survey of Canada's most renowned group of painters in twenty-five years and marks the 75th anniversary of the Group's first collective show.
M.C. Escher: Landscapes to Mindscapes exhibition opens (October 16). The exhibition celebrates an outstanding gift to the nation of original prints by the renowned, Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher, from his oldest son, George Escher. (November)
The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation sets the highest record for Fall attendance at the National Gallery of Canada with a total of 69,890 visitors.
  National Gallery launches its website on the World Wide Web (January).
Gallery receives a major gift of Canadian and Impressionist masters from the late Mrs. Saidye Bronfman (May), including works by Monet and Degas.
Gallery presents A New Class of Art: The Artist's Print in Canadian Art 1877-1920 (June 27-September 2, 1996). This exhibition marks the first study of the origins and establishment of the artist's print in Canada.
Major exhibition of the works by the master French Painter Jean- Baptiste Camille Corot presented (June 21-September 22).
Gallery announces the development of its new multi-media Learning Centre, CyberMuse sponsored by the American Express Foundation (November).
  Renoir's Portraits: Impressions of an Age exhibition opens at the National Gallery on June 26, 1997.
Gallery is honoured with the annual Ewell L. Newman Award for its exhibition catalogue A New Class of Art: The Artist's Print in Canadian Art, 1877-1920 (July).
Renoir's Portrait's: Impressions of an Age sets record attendance at the Gallery with 340,000 visitors.
Midland Walwyn Capital Inc. provides landmark sponsorship of $500,000 for Picasso: Masterworks from the Museum of Modern Art, to be presented in 1998.
National Gallery receives a gift of sixteenth-century masterpiece The Departure of Abraham for Canaan c 1570-71 by the Venetian painter Jacopo Bassano from Mr. and Mrs. Michal Hornstein (October).
National Gallery of Canada celebrates a gift of 200 British prints from Vancouver-based collector David Lemon.
Economic impact study (November) concludes that Renoir's Portrait's: Impressions of an Age generated $33.2 million of goods and services throughout Ontario and Quebec. The gross impact or net economic activity in Ontario and Quebec during the Renoir's exhibit was stated to be $69.2 M.
The Gallery releases its first CD-ROM, featuring works from the Canadian collection (December 22).
Renoir's Portraits: Impressions of an Age becomes top attended exhibition in the world for 1997 with close to 500,000 visitors at Chicago showing
  Mr. Pierre Théberge (January 8) takes office as the ninth Director of the National Gallery of Canada.
The National Gallery of Canada officially launches the first audio- guide of Canadian art, becoming the first museum in the country to offer an audio, self-guided tour for its collection (March 10).
The exhibition Picasso: Masterworks from the Museum of Modern Art opens on April 3.
The Gallery celebrates the 10th anniversary of its opening at the Sussex Drive building.
The Gallery announces the gift by Sheila and Nahum Gelber of Pablo Picasso's Woman in a Hat with Flowers (1944) and Camille Pissaro's The Old Road to Ennery at Pontoise (1877).
Membership rises from 2,200 in 1997 to 13,000 as a result of membership campaign (April 1998).
  Terre Sauvage: The Canadian Landscape and The Group of Seven, an exhibition organized by the National Gallery of Canada, receives international acclaim when it travels to Mexico, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and China.

Launch of Vernissage magazine and CyberMuse Web site and on-site database and learning tool.
  The Gallery celebrates artist Alex Colville’s 80th birthday with the exhibition Alex Colville: Milestones. The online Provenance Research Project presents the Gallery's continuing research on the provenance of works in its collection during the period 1933-1945, published in accordance with the Guidelines Governing the Unlawful Appropriation of Objects during the Nazi Era.
  The Gallery awards the 2001 Millennium Prize, the first international contemporary art prize in Canada, to Janet Cardiff for her work Forty-Part Motet.
  The Gallery bridges the gaps in provenance for four paintings, Gustav Klimt’s Hope I, Hieronymus Bosch’s The Temptation of St. Anthony, Veneto Bartolomeo’s Portrait of a Young Lady, and Harold Gilman’s A Swedish Village.
  Art of this Land integrates First Nations art chronologically with the Canadian works on display in the galleries. The Gallery organizes The Body Transformed, a showcase of works by some of the world’s best modern and contemporary sculptors, at a national historic site in Shawinigan, Quebec.
  Bell Audioguides highlighting the Canadian collections are produced in German, Spanish, and Mandarin.
  The National Gallery of Canada celebrates its 125th anniversary with the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and the Renaissance in Florence. The NGC Foundation raises over one million dollars with the Renaissance Ball.