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About Nanaimo Art Gallery

Our Story

Located on the lands of the Snuneymuxw, in the heart of downtown Nanaimo, Nanaimo Art Gallery is an ambitious public art gallery that inspires and engages its communities through art.

The Gallery was founded in 1976 as the Madrona Exposition Centre by a group of dedicated faculty at Malaspina College, now Vancouver Island University. Nanaimo Art Gallery operated the purpose-built gallery on campus until May 2015, when we amalgamated at our downtown location at 150 Commercial Street. 

Over the past several years, the Gallery has moved through a phase of significant transformation to reposition itself in the communities we serve and to enhance our capacity. We have re-imagined and enriched our integrated exhibition and education programs, created new partnerships, strengthened our relationships with artists and audiences and expanded our staff cohort. 

Unique in our region, we are creating new understandings of the potential of contemporary art. An inquiry-based approach infuses and connects all Gallery activities and a small, dedicated team of staff, board and volunteers offers exhibition and educational programs that are rooted in our unique regional context and resonate with audiences both locally and globally.

We look forward to exploring ways to continue to honour this territory, our Coast Salish friends who have stewarded the land since time immemorial and strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities and artists. We will continue to offer accessible programming for all ages, building connections with all of the communities we serve. Together we will work towards an expanded facility for our gallery as it moves into the next stage of its story. Learn more about the future Nanaimo Art Gallery.

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Mission & Vision

We engage and inspire community through art.

Nanaimo Art Gallery is a creative hub for Vancouver Island, where we build relationships, connect communities, and effect change through art.


We honour the Snuneymuxw people and the territory on which the Gallery operates, carrying ourselves with qwum qwum uy’shqwalawun: operating in the spirit of “good heart, good mind.”

With this intention, Nanaimo Art Gallery’s values are:

Relevance: our work is grounded in community and place
Relationships: we believe in building, nurturing and sustaining relationships
Innovation: we are at the forefront of creativity with quality programs and exhibitions
Openness: we are a welcoming organization for all

For Artists

Our Curator, Jesse Birch, regularly visits artist’s studios in Nanaimo, across Vancouver Island, and on the Gulf Islands to look, learn, share ideas, and give feedback. If you are interested in a studio visit, contact Jesse Birch, [email protected].

If you are interested in becoming a part of our Artists in the Schools program please fill out an application form. If you have any questions or are interested in teaching art workshops for adults, children, or teens, please contact Community Engagement Coordinator Aisha, [email protected]a.

The Gallery Store carries local artists and makers from around Vancouver Island and across the Salish Sea. To enquire about having your products or art carried in The Gallery Store, please send an introductory email to Mary Anne, our Visitor Services & Retail Coordinator, at [email protected] Please include a few images of your work or a link to your website and a few paragraphs about yourself and your products.

Strategic Plan

Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Board and Staff are proud to share Creating Space, a strategic plan that invests in the future of the Gallery and community.

This multi-year strategic planning framework outlines the priorities needed to realize our vision for a New Nanaimo Art Gallery. It is the result of many months of internal and external engagement around Gallery programming, operations, visitor experience, museum practices, and tactical communications.

Download the 2023 Strategic Plan Here

Board of Directors

  • Debra Jacklin (President)
  • Melissa Wang (Treasurer)
  • David Alexander
  • Barney Ellis-Perry
  • Katie Ganassin
  • Sonya Hartwig
  • Keith Kerrigan
  • Signy Madden
  • Chris Midgely
  • Michael Ribicic
  • Maxwell Stevenson



Nanaimo Art Gallery is situated in the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of Snuneymuxw First Nations, and we are grateful to operate on Snuneymuxw territory.



Nanaimo Art Gallery is situated in the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of Snuneymuxw First Nations, and we are grateful to operate on Snuneymuxw territory.