The National Gallery of Canada makes its home in a grand, light-filled structure of glass and granite, in which visitors can find stunning exhibition spaces, a garden court, a reconstructed chapel and more.
Scotiabank Great Hall
The soaring windows of the Scotiabank Great Hall capture the Parliament Buildings, the Ottawa River and the Gatineau Hills in vertical frames. Dramatic by day and stunning by night, it welcomes the Gallery’s visitors every day from all over the country and abroad. The Scotiabank Great Hall is also the setting for an array of special events – from small candle-lit dinners to spectacular receptions for hundreds of guests.
Constructed of granite and glass, the cathedral-like Colonnade connects the main entrance of the building to the Scotiabank Great Hall. The long approach up the incline of the Colonnade – one of the longest ramps in recent architecture – creates an agreeable sense of anticipation. From the exterior, one sees a building that celebrates movement.
The Gallery’s exhibition spaces feature some of the best visual art in the country. Take a journey through the themes and legends that have shaped our cultural heritage, in the Gallery’s transformed Indigenous and Canadian Galleries. View historical and cutting-edge photographs in exhibitions featuring the renowned photography collection. Explore European and American masterpieces, and experience the dynamism of contemporary art.
Michael and Sonja Koerner Family Atrium
One of the Gallery’s most beautiful spaces is the Michael and Sonja Koerner Family Atrium, which features a glass-bottomed pool and soaring skylights. A floating wall on one side allows for a large display of late-19th and early-20th-century bronze sculptures by Louis-Philippe Hébert and Alfred Laliberté, as well as Michael Belmore’s 2015 installation, Lost Bridal Veil. It is a perfect place to contemplate art in the round.
Fred and Elizabeth Fountain Garden Court
The National Gallery of Canada also provides visitors with a glass-covered, landscaped courtyard, which serves as a welcome retreat — a calming and restful place to pause and reflect. The Fred and Elizabeth Fountain Garden Court contains massive Canadian Shield limestone rocks that create an undulating topography, a gravel path that suggests a river bed, and a bed of greenery with ferns, flowers and plants found in the Canadian Shield region.
The Rideau Street Chapel was originally part of Our Lady of the Sacred Hearts, a girls’ boarding school in Ottawa, run by the Sisters of Charity. In 1972, this treasure of our Canadian heritage was saved from destruction and eventually reconstructed inside the National Gallery of Canada spaces. It remains one of only two architectural exhibits in all North America, and is currently the setting for Janet Cardiff’s Forty-Part Motet.
Library and Archives
Expansive windows, which offer a stunning panoramic view of Parliament Hill, Kìwekì Point (formerly Nepean Point) and beyond, combined with warm furnishings, create an inviting environment for readers and researchers alike at the Gallery’s Library and Archives. It houses the most extensive collection of visual arts literature in Canada, which traces the development of visual arts in the country since the founding of the National Gallery in 1880 to the present.
The National Gallery of Canada’s building also includes an important area that is generally not accessible to the public. Linked to the main building by an elevated glass-enclosed walkway, the Curatorial Wing provides office space for Gallery staff. It also contains conservation laboratories, workshops, and a study room for prints, drawings and photographs.
A premium meeting and event space that is perfect for any audience, the auditorium is equipped with luxurious seating, generous legroom, superb acoustics and unobstructed sight lines. It is the venue for some of the Gallery’s most popular events and talks, including the NGC Lecture Series.
Enjoy the art of shopping in the Gallery’s Boutique. Conveniently located near the main entrance, the Boutique offers visitors a wide selection of items, including books, posters, stationery, decorative accessories and toys. Discover our new Canadian jewellery collections, exhibition merchandise and unique gift ideas inspired by the national collection.
Located at the end of the Concourse off the Scotiabank Great Hall, and across from the contemporary galleries, My Bistro has its own glass rotunda, access to a private patio and an inspiring view of Kìwekì Point (formerly Nepean Point), the Ottawa River and Parliament Hill. My Bistro is designed to serve families and groups in an informal, self-service atmosphere.
The National Gallery of Canada’s Building by Moshe Safdie
Cost of construction and landscaping:
$122 million (CAD)
Completion: April 1988
Concrete poured for the building:
40,200 cubic metres
Area: 53,265 m2
43 metres in the Scotiabank Great Hall
May 21, 1988
Granite on floors and walls:
3,250 m2 of Tadoussac variegated rose granite
Access the floor plan