History & Mandate

January 2012

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is the largest art museum in Atlantic Canada. With locations in downtown Halifax and downtown Yarmouth, the Gallery houses the Province's art collection and offers a range of exhibitions and programming.

As one of the premier arts institutions in Canada, the Gallery is responsible for acquiring, preserving, and exhibiting works of art and for providing education in the visual arts.

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is an agency of the Province of Nova Scotia. Its mandate is to develop a collection, exhibition program, and public program that brings Nova Scotians and visitors in contact with contemporary and historic art that is associated with the province while also introducing art from across the region, the country, and other nations and cultures.

The Gallery’s two buildings in Halifax make up approximately 90,000 square feet of space, housing the Permanent Collection of over 15,000 objects. The Gallery also brings in many Nova Scotian, national, and international exhibits every year, which contribute to the paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, ceramics, and other works on display.

On-site amenities include the Gallery Shop and the Art Sales & Rental Gallery.

History & Growth
With a history dating back to 1908, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia has grown significantly from its past life as the Nova Scotia Museum of Fine Arts, which was entrusted to maintain the Crown’s 200-piece art collection on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia.

In 1975, the Museum was renamed in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Act. Shortly thereafter, the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia implemented educational programs, started developing its collection, and began looking for a permanent home after years of using small non-Gallery spaces.

The Gallery officially opened the doors to its new home in 1988 situated in the heart of downtown Halifax. This gave the Gallery a home and permanence in the city and province.

A decade later, in 1998, the Gallery grew again when two floors of the neighbouring Provincial Building opened. This expansion made room for the Maud Lewis House and Gallery, collection storage, office space, café facilities, and extended space for all other services, plus additional gallery space.

In 2006, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia expanded again when it opened a second branch in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. This made the Gallery the only institution of its kind in Canada with a satellite branch. The Western Branch helps the Gallery fulfill its goal of making art more accessible across the province.

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