When you live somewhere long enough, it’s easy to overlook places you always mean to visit but never have the time to. Mine was the National Gallery of Canada, a beautiful glass and steel building on the Ottawa River.
I called Ottawa home for more than four years. The first time I ever stepped foot inside the gallery, I was covering some charity ball in the stunning grand hall. The second time was for the wedding of my good friends Shawna and Aires in the water court.
But I never had time to really explore until I found myself with a few free hours one morning. It was a perfect lazy day, gloriously sunny but bitterly windy. With the Parliament buildings in the distance, I watched gallery staff put the finishing touches on the gigantic Christmas tree in the grand hall. I love all the light that streams through there.
I had never heard of Holgate before, but his portraits are utterly captivating. He’s supposed to be most famous for painting female nudes in Canadian landscapes, but I think Holgate’s amazing woodcuts are pretty kickass too.
The gallery is a relaxing place to roam. Off the interior garden is the fully reconstructed interior of a 19th-century chapel.
There is of course a huge Canadian collection but I found the contemporary art pretty fun and eclectic, like this creepy oversized Head of a Baby (2003) by Ron Mueck, made of silicone, fiberglass resin and mixed media.
National Gallery of Canada, 380 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, Ontario, 1-800-319-2787.
For hours and admission, click here.