The Collection

The Gallery’s collection contains about 4000 works of art including paintings, photographs, prints, sculpture and multi-media work by established Canadian and International Artists.

The collection began with an initial group of approximately 300 predominantly European paintings, prints and drawings acquired in 1885 as a teaching collection for art students to study and copy.

A few significant gifts were made to the Owens’ collection in the 1940s but it wasn’t until the late 1960s when art classes were moved from the Gallery to an adjacent building that the focus shifted towards actively developing the Gallery’s collection.

While the entire collection is not on permanent view, works from the collection are often on view in exhibitions. Check our current and upcoming exhibitions calendar to learn more.

Collection Highlights

An image is split down the middle by a black bar with arrows pointing left and right. On the left a photograph of a large building with beige siding and burgundy trim. Storefronts occupy the ground level, while central portion of the building steps up to a third story with a peaked roof and half-moon window. In the foreground is a bench and a street sign that reads, “Willow Lane”. On the right in the foreground of the painting a milk truck wheels around a corner. A young boy stands on the running board of a truck, balancing himself with one arm through the open passenger-side window, while holding a bottle of milk in his free hand. Buildings, including storefronts line the far side of the street.

Colville In Situ

Consider Alex Colville’s work in the here and now

Within one large circle of seals, laying on their sides, four smaller semi-circles are filled with colourful, geometric patterns. Between the semi-circles, seen form above, two lines of caribou walk in either direction.

Collection Highlight: Prints by Jerry Evans

Densely embroidered textiles and fabrics are layered over top of one another. A white square with a pink tulip is stitched prominently in the centre. To its left, over a patchwork of red, green, and yellow floral motifs are the heads of a man and woman depicted in black and white comic-style, both peering to the right. Between the two is the word “AAHHHHHHH” and a cartoon figure of Wile E. Coyote playing electric guitar. To the right are embroidered soldiers. Around them is a printed toile folk scene of wine grape harvesting in cream and maroon. Embroidered Hungarian script on white fabric and a band of white lace, extend to the right, partially covered by sheer purple fabric with silver dragonflies.

Collection Hightlight: Anna Torma’s Carpet of Many Hands

A painting of a woman being embraced by a man is divided into three sections. One is brightly lit showing cracks in the canvas, the centre is coloured with hues of blue and the left shows naturalistic colours.

In the Conservation Lab: Romeo and Juliet

Nantume Violet stands, smiling next to Buluma Mordecai seated. They are outside, in front of a large tree on a sunny day.

Buluma Ochungo Mordecai (Class of ’62) by Nantume Violet

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A life-sized, rust-coloured wolf, a pair of steel split urns, and a low-lying bench are installed across the wide front steps leading to the entrance of a classically inspired stone building. Above the door, carved in stone, are the words "Owens Museum of Fine Arts, 1894".

Collection Highlight: John McEwen’s Salt/Marsh

Each section of an eight pointed star is made of red, yellow, orange and blue porcupine quills. Pink and white quills fill the remained of a circle on birchbark, within a woven exterior of sweetgrass.

Collection Highlight: Quillwork by Melissa Peter-Paul

A figure wearing red holds a feather with two foot prints up to the sky. On their sleeve three stylized figures contain the numbers, 2, 1, 5. Below, blue flowers grown from red soil. Footprints in between the roots continue up the figure's long dark hair. Behind the figure a blue circle is surrounded by bands of yellow and purple hues.

Collection Highlight: Prayers for Our Lost Children by Loretta Gould

A portrait of a dark skinned person with short hair poses with their arms crossed. They wear metal rimmed glasses, and a cream collared sweater over a shirt and brown tie.

Collection Highlight: Portrait of Felix Orville Goodman

In the foreground, an old woman sits, resting her head on her cane next to a tree stump with new shoots sprouting from around it. In the distance children dance in a circle in a field at the edge of a town.

Collection Highlight: Temps Passé by William Blair Bruce

From the vault