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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.

Aboriginal mask art on rootop
Crowd of people watching aboriginal musical performance

Vision & Mission

Inspiring and challenging our community through art.

Our public art gallery is a welcoming place of enlightenment, enjoyment and education. It is a focal point for the community.

Through exhibitions, programs, and our growing art collection, we explore the boundaries of artistic imagination, with and for the people of Nanaimo, the region and beyond.


We are at the forefront of creativity with quality programs and exhibitions.

We work in partnership with others in the community.

We preserve and promote our artistic resources responsibly and with leadership.

We maintain a high level of programming and professionalism.

We raise community awareness about the importance of visual art.

We make art a stimulating experience for everyone.

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 teaching art classes for adults or children, or becoming a part of our TD Artists in the Schools program please contact Community Engagement Coordinator Aisha, [email protected].

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 Aaramë, our Visitor Services 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.

Board of Directors

  • Debra Jacklin (President)
  • Ken Hammer (Vice President)
  • Caroline Roach (Treasurer)
  • Katie Ganassin
  • Ian Gove
  • Sarah E. Lane
  • Chris Midgely
  • Michael Ribicic
  • Maxwell Stevenson
  • Melissa Wang



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.