Do you ever come out of a site like a museum or a cathedral and just think “Wow! That as so awesome. I wish I lived here so I could come back time and again and really explore every nook and cranny”? I do think this quite often. But not, I’m afraid, after visiting the National Gallery of Canada.

The National Gallery wasn’t actually on our original itinerary but when we arrived at the Royal Canadian Mint we found that the next available tour was in 90 minutes. We figured since the gallery was right next door we’d go for a wander in there while we waited. We purchased our tickets for the Mint (which was the way to go as they were then sold out when we did return for our tour) and we headed to the gallery.

Now it is here that I will give a little disclosure- I really know very little about art. Even with the many museums and art galleries I’ve visited in the past 10 years or so I haven’t taken any of that time to really learn about techniques, art periods, etc. etc. But I can tell you what I like. And there wasn’t much of it in the National Gallery. Not to say others wouldn’t visit and think it was the best thing since sliced bread, so please don’t scratch it from your list of ‘things to do in Ottawa‘ on my account alone.

On the plus side this may have been the site that L, the kiddo, and I laughed the most at. We affectionately dubbed this the “gallery of stuff we could have painted ourselves“. Please allow me to show you around.

Water Court at National Gallery of Canada

Water Court (photo by L)

One of our first stops was in the Water Court on Level 1. I thought this was a really serene area and I liked the little statues around the perimeter. Although with all these guys sitting around it does sort of remind me of the scene often seen at the mall where men sit, bored silly, waiting for their women that are taking forever to shop. Poor guys. A really neat feature of the water court is that the shallow pool acts as a watery skylight for the lobby below.

From here we really just wandered from room to room. We had a map but we said map-schmap and just let our feet go where they wished. Unfortunately our feet must like contemporary art more than our eyes do as that as where we ended up.

Cue the “stuff we could have painted ourselves“…

National Gallery CollageSee. You may have thought I was kidding? Nope. :-)

And another… I wonder who the artist is on this one.


Oh yeah…it’s me! Haha this is actually a section from the kiddo’s bedroom wall. I painted these stripes around his room a few years ago but I’m thinking now I should have just painted them on a canvas instead and submitted them to a gallery. I could be a millionaire now! :-) Well only if I could come up with a good blurb to put on the sign beside my painting like this one-

Blurb for painting

A “pivotal painting”? Really? This sign goes with the middle painting in the set of three above. No, I’m afraid I just don’t get contemporary art. I’m not sure I ever will. But for those of you who do, here are a couple of the exhibit rooms and another painting.

National Gallery 2

National Gallery 3

National Gallery 4

I must say that while I wasn’t keen on the art in many of the rooms, I did enjoy the big open spaces and some of the architecture of the building itself. Like the Water Court, shown in the first photo, the Garden Court is another peaceful place to stop for a few moments to rest. It is planted with trees and seasonal flowers so the poinsettias that were there for the holidays made quite a striking display with permanent trees. The best view was on level two from the balcony, as seen from this photo below.

Edit: The photo below was used on the National Gallery’s Holidays at the Gallery page and their email newsletter for the 2015-2016 holiday season. How cool is that? I was SO excited when they contacted me to request permission to use my photo.

Garden Court

There were also some rooms with European Art such as Baroque, Renaissance, and Impressionism, which are the types of art that are more up my alley. I am always amazed at the talent to create these pieces- definitely notstuff I could have painted myself“.  I can barely draw a stick figure to proportion let alone paint the scenes like these below. To me these are much more worthy of the the word “art”. But then isn’t that really what is so great about art? There is something for everyone and all different tastes and opinions and we don’t have to like it all.

National Gallery Collage 4If we had more time we could have also visited more of the Canadian art and stayed a little longer at the M.C Escher exhibit, as that looked really neat. Maybe we should have paid a little more attention to the map. :-)


InformationIcon2  The gallery’s schedule varies quite a bit during the year so it is best to visit their website for the hours during the time of year you wish to visit.

Phone: 613-990-1985 or 1-800-319-ARTS (2787) |  Email:

General Admission fees (including tax) are: Adult $12/ Youth (12-19) $6/ Seniors $10/ Students $10/ under 11 are free. They also have a family rate of $24 for 2 adults and up to 3 youths.  Special exhibition prices are a little more and are listed here (along with the special exhibits they include).

They offer FREE general admission every Thursday from 5-8 pm, May 17, June 7, July 1, and September 27. The National Gallery is also one of the seven museums included on the “Canada’s Capital Museum Passport“.

LocationIcon2Located at 380 Sussex Drive, Ottawa K1N 9N4  (there is a giant metal spider at the front of it that you can’t miss)

On-site underground parking is offered for $2.75 per half hour up to a daily maximum of $14.

For more information you can visit the National Gallery of Canada website.