Vancouver Art Gallery Receives $1.5 Million Gift for New Building

The Vancouver Art Gallery has received a $1.5 million capital campaign gift from Canadian art dealer—and longtime Gallery supporter—Donald Ellis.

Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada, © Herzog & de Meuron, Herzog & de Meuron, View across Queen Elizabeth Square

“Through his monetary and art donations over the past decade, Donald Ellis has been a generous donor to the Vancouver Art Gallery, said Daina Augaitis, Interim Director at the Gallery. “I’m thrilled that he is making such a remarkable commitment to showcase historical Indigenous art in the new Gallery building. His generosity brings us one step closer to realizing a new Gallery building.”

Ellis founded the Donald Ellis Gallery, which has an international presence that includes New York. As a recognized authority in historical Indigenous art, Ellis has been a regularly featured appraiser of Indigenous art on the PBS, BBC and CBC Antiques Roadshow.

The Vancouver Art Gallery was among the first Canadian galleries to consider Indigenous objects as art rather than ethnography. Continuing Doris Shadbolt’s perspective, the Gallery has contributed considerably to the preservation and documentation of Indigenous art, particularly that of the West Coast, through major group and solo exhibitions and publications.

Collecting Indigenous art is a more recent endeavour—one that was greatly aided with Ellis’ recent gifts to the Gallery’s collection including five finely carved Charles Edenshaw artworks. His capital campaign gift will be recognized in the historical Indigenous gallery in the new Gallery building.

The new 300,000-square-foot purpose-built Gallery will incorporate passive house design, widely recognized as the most rigorous energy standard in the world making the Gallery a showcase for environmental sustainability in the Canadian and global cultural sector.

“The artistic contributions of Indigenous Peoples over centuries—from the Coast Salish, the Kwakwa̲ka̲ʼwakw, Haida (Xaat Kíl) and beyond—are essential to the history of Canada. I am deeply committed to the expansion of the Vancouver Art Gallery and the potential it has to advance reconciliation through art. By remembering the effects of history, art can be a healing act, providing the public with opportunities to develop a deeper understanding of Indigenous history and culture,” said Ellis.

This $1.5 million gift brings the total amount raised from the private sector to $86.5 million—the highest amount ever raised by an arts and culture organization in British Columbia. Including the initial support from the Province of British Columbia, the campaign has reached a total of $136.5 million to-date.