The New Brunswick Museum (“NBM”) is a general museum with collections that include not only fine art but also decorative art; New Brunswick First Nations cultural history; toys, games and sports; and aspects of photography. It is the provincial museum of the Province of New Brunswick and accordingly the museum's focus is on New Brunswick and its people.
This museum is the oldest continuing museum in Canada. Its origins can be traced back to 1842 when Dr. Abraham Gesner opened a natural history museum in St. John based upon the collection of objects that he had assembled as a geologist. The objective in opening his collection to the public was to obtain funds that would enable him to continue his work as a geologist. Unfortunately, this venture was not successful and his creditors donated his collection to the Saint John Mechanics Institute in 1846. The Institute continues to operate Gesner's museum combing it with various collections of its own. In 1890, the museum came under the auspices of the New Brunswick Natural History Society.
During the first part of the 20th century, the museum's collections continued to grow both in scope and number of objects. These collections were incorporated into the provincial museum when it was established by the Province of New Brunswick in 1929. The museum's name officially became the New Brunswick Museum in 1930.
The NBM operates from two locations in Saint John. Its original location on Douglas Avenue is now houses the Colections & Research Centre. Since 1992, the museum has also operated an Exhibition Centre, which occupies three floors in a commercial building within easy walking distance of the cruise terminals in St. John. Proposals have been made for a purpose-built facility that would combine the Collection & Research Centre and the Exhibition Centre.
Its fine art collection includes approximately 2,700 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints that chronicle the development of fine art in New Brunswick. These include both works by artists from New Brunswick as well as works of art collected by people from New Brunswick. As a result, the collection includes works by artists from other parts of Canada and artists from other countries as well as works by artists from New Brunswick. Along the same lines, the collection is not just contemporary works but includes all periods of New Brunswick's history. Stylistically, the collection is diverse ranging from traditional representational art to abstraction.
The NBM exhibits works from its collection in two large galleries in the Exhibition Centre. One is dedicated to New Brunswick artists while the other has works from elsewhere in Canada. There are also temporary exhibitions of art elsewhere in the Exhibition Centre from time to time.
For more information about visiting, see the New Brunswick Museum website.
For more on visiting Saint John
See our Saint John profile
For more places to see art
See our Places to See Art index
Above: The building that houses the Exhibition Centre.
Places to see art - - Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada - - New Brunswick Museum