The Dalhousie Art Gallery is part of Dalhousie University. It both an academic support unit for the university and the oldest public art gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
An unusual aspect of the gallery is that Dalhousie University does not have a fine arts department. Thus, it reflects a belief that exposure to art is an important element in the education of all, not just artists and art historians.
Dalhousie has long had an art collection. Indeed, it can be said to have begun in the 1830s when its first president donated a print by John James Audubon to what was then Dalhousie College. Over the years, the collection has grown as alumni and friends donated pieces and various works were purchased.
An Arts Committee was formed to further interest in art on campus in 1943. Among other things, it presented touring art exhibitions at the university. Ten years later, the Arts Committee had secured a dedicated exhibition room in the administration building and the Dalhousie Art Gallery was born.
In 1971, the Gallery moved to purpose-built facilities on the lower level of the new Dalhousie Arts Centre, which also included performing art facilities. The Gallery's new home included both exhibition space a vault for storing the part of the art collection that was not on display. A professional staff was hired, overseen by the Arts Committee.
Still, it has not always been a smooth ride for the Gallery since then. In the 1980s and 1990s, attempts were made to close the Gallery by university administrators looking for ways to cut costs. However, public outcrys and the generosity of alumni saved the Gallery.
In recent years, the collection has continued to grow both through donations of art and through acquisitions made with donated funds and grants. The collection includes over 1,000 works. Many of these are works on paper by Canadian artists. However, there are also works by artists from other countries such as a wood print by Albrecht Durer and prints by Francisco Goya, Edvard Manet, Jean Francois Millet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. Similarly, with regard to paintings, the collection focuses on works by 20th and 21st century Canadian artists but there are also earlier works by artists such as Sir David Wilkie and William Dashwood. An important work in the collection is “Halifax Harbour – Time of War” by Arthur Lismer, a leading member of the Canadian Group of Seven.
The gallery hosts a series of temporary exhibitions each year. These include visiting exhibitions as well as exhibitions drawn from the permanent collection. Works from the permanent collection are also displayed in other buildings around the university.
Open to the general public, the Dalhousie Gallery is located within walking distance of Halifax's Public Gardens on the Dalhousie University campus. For more information on visiting, see the Dalhousie Art Gallery's website.
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Places to see art - - Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada - - Dalhousie Art Gallery