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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
Established 1908; 114 years ago (1908)
Location 1723 Hollis Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Type Art museum
Visitors 45,455 (2017)

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.

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. From 2006 to 2020, the museum operated 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. It was renamed the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in 1975. 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.

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (47633173451)
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, 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. 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. 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.

In 1999, plans were announced by the Government of Nova Scotia to built a satellite branch of the museum in southwestern Nova Scotia. On the 28 May 2006, the institution opened a satellite branch of the museum in Yarmouth, a municipality in southwest Nova Scotia. 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. The satellite branch building was 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). The western branch operated until 2020, when smoke damage to the structure forced the museum to cease operations in the building.

In 2008, the museum published a report that recommended the construction of a new museum building, citing its present downtown building as "seriously inadequate". 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.

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". 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. The estimated cost to construct the building is C$130 million to C$140 million. The provincial government committed C$80 million, while the federal government committed C$30 million. The museum was tasked with raising C$30 million from public and private donors for the construction of the new building.

Permanent collection

Maud Lewis House (40666790093)
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. More than 2,000 Nova Scotian, Canadian, and other non-Canadian artists have works in the museum's permanent collection. 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. 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 Governors itself for final approval.

As of June 2017, the museum had 55 works by Maud Lewis, making the museum's collection the world's largest public collection of works by her. The works are exhibited at the Maud Lewis exhibit, and is the most visited exhibition space in the museum according to the institution. 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. In 1996, the museum took possession of the home, moving the small building into its Maud Lewis exhibit, along with some restoration work.

In June 2013, the museum acquired a collection of 2,070 images by photographer Annie Leibovitz. The Leibovitz collection was donated to the museum by the Mintz family, after they acquired it for C$4.7 million. It includes 1,307 editioned prints, and 763 vintage file prints, with the earliest image dating to 1983. 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.

The museum's collection also features works from a number of First Nations artists, including Kent Monkman.

Selected works

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