Portrait Gallery of Canada

The Portrait Gallery of Canada (French: Musée du portrait du Canada) is a Canadian art collection specialising in portraiture. It was established on 23 January 2001 by the Government of Canada as a program of Library and Archives Canada.

Portrait Gallery of Canada
LocationOttawa, Ontario (as part of Library and Archives Canada)
Gatineau, Quebec (collection storage)


Since the nineteenth century, the Library has gathered an extensive collection of paintings and portraits, almost all of which are in storage in its archives in Gatineau, Quebec. A plan to permanently house the collection in a gallery in Ottawa, Ontario, across the street from the Parliament Buildings, was announced in 2001, and initial plans called for its opening in 2004/2005, but this plan is now defunct.[1] Library and Archives Canada is instead partnering with museums, galleries and other institutions across the country to showcase the collection.[2]

The proposed new gallery in Ottawa would have created a public location to display this collection. In the meantime, the Portrait Gallery of Canada is displaying its collection to the public in travelling exhibitions. Its "Portraits in the Streets" series brought portrait reproductions to urban areas of Canadian cities, including Ottawa, Quebec City, and, in 2010, Vancouver.

Renovations and additions were underway until 2006 at the former location of the American Embassy, at 100 Wellington Street in Ottawa. It was intended that this building would house the gallery's collection upon its completion, projected for 2007. However, the project was put on hold in 2006 by the Conservative government, who considered locating the museum in Calgary and for it to be partially funded by the energy company EnCana.

In particular, there were discussions with EnCana about including the museum in the company's office tower then under construction in Calgary.[3] As of June 2007, construction of additional gallery space had not started,[4] and two weeks later, EnCana announced that the gallery would not be moving into their new office tower in Calgary.[5]

A competition for private sector corporations to house the collection attracted bids from Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa, but that competition was cancelled in November 2008. The idea of locating a gallery outside of Ottawa resulted in a motion before the Senate that would have made it illegal to move the gallery outside Ottawa.[6]


  1. "The Chronicle Herald". thechronicleherald.ca. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  2. Services, Government of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, Programs Branch, Web Content and. "What's new". www.collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  3. "EnCana in talks for national gallery: Private funds could bring portrait museum to Calgary;" Theresa Tayler. Calgary Herald. Calgary, Alta.: Dec 6, 2006.
  4. "CBC.ca Arts - Portrait gallery project delayed". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  5. "CBC.ca Arts - National gallery not coming to Calgary building: EnCana". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  6. Edmonton in bidding for portrait gallery Archived 2012-11-04 at the Wayback Machine

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