Gallery History and Vision

Nanaimo Art Gallery is located in the heart of downtown Nanaimo on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.  The Gallery enhances the cultural environment of Vancouver Island, serving a regional population base of approximately 225,000, through exhibitions, education, and outreach that encourages active public involvement with the visual arts.

The Gallery presents a program of excellent exhibitions by professional contemporary artists and dynamic public programs that explore exhibition themes in the gallery and in the community. We offer innovative workshops, lectures, and hands-on activities for both children and adults at Art Lab, our dedicated space for learning, which opened in 2014.

The Gallery maintains a growing collection of art and holds works by significant artists from British Columbia. We connect with over 12,500 children across three school districts each year through TD Artists in the Schools, and operate The Gallery Store which features unique, high-quality, locally made objects, and contributes to the livelihood of artists in our region.

Our audience includes those working in resource-based industries and small business, a large retirement community, diverse Aboriginal communities, a university with regional and international students, the arts community, and families. Our major partners and supporters include the City of Nanaimo, British Columbia Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of British Columbia, and Vancouver Island University.

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. 

Our team worked collaboratively to design a vision for the future and we are excited to share it.  Read Impact 2021 Strategic Plan to learn about our priorities and goals for the Gallery over the next five years.

Our Vision

Inspiring and challenging our community through art.

Our Mission

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.

Our Values

  • Innovation: We are at the forefront of creativity with quality programs and exhibitions.
  • Collaboration: We work in partnership with others in the community.
  • Stewardship: We preserve and promote our artistic resources responsibly and with leadership.
  • Excellence: We maintain a high level of programming and professionalism.
  • Advocacy: We raise community awareness about the importance of visual art.
  • Accessibility: We make art a stimulating experience for everyone.


Sign up to receive our newsletter.

Contact Us

150 Commercial Street
Nanaimo, British Columbia

+1 (250) 754-1750
Tue - Sat: 10 - 5 PM
Sun: 12 - 5 PM



You are here: Home About Gallery History and Vision