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Arts and Theatre in British Columbia

You’ll find plenty of ways to soak up arts and culture across British Columbia. Spend the day visiting art galleries, meeting local artists, and watching live performances of classic and modern plays. These cultural attractions are open year round and offer something for all types of art enthusiasts.

Most of the popular art galleries, theaters, and cultural attractions are located in Vancouver and Victoria. The Art Emporium in Vancouver is the oldest art gallery in Canada and houses the works of many British Columbia artists.

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria features 18,000 works of art and the largest public collection of artwork in British Columbia and Vancouver Island. You’ll find art displays from the First Nation peoples and exhibits featuring Canadian, Asian, and contemporary art.

Vancouver Island is home to the Belfry Theatre that produces a variety of plays throughout the year. You’ll also find the Belfry Gardens here. Head here to enjoy concerts and live performances at The Royal Theatre and McPherson Playhouse as you explore the island.

Art Emporium

Explore a hot spot of art culture in Vancouver. The Art Emporium of Vancouver is Canada's oldest art gallery. The gallery was open to the public in 1897 and has continued to be a place for artists to gather and display their work since then. It remains to be a key element in Vancouver's art scene. The Art Emporium has also become an art dealer.

After the Emporium was relocated to South Granville, additional buildings were restored to art galleries, to form what is known as Gallery Row. Enjoy strolling through the galleries to better appreciate British Columbia's art.

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Founded in 1951, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria first exhibited its art in the historic Victoria Mansion, which was built in 1889. Today, the gallery features 18,000 works of art spread across seven modern galleries located near the original. It is the largest public collection in British Columbia and Vancouver Island.

Exhibits include collections from contemporary, Canadian, historical, and Asian settings alongside the permanent displays of art from the First Nation peoples. The gallery is open on most days, except for Mondays, and has usual open hours from 10 a.m. or noon to 5 p.m.

Belfry Theatre

Known as a historic theatre and a professional theatre company, the Belfry Theatre is located in the Fernwood neighborhood of Victoria on Vancouver Island. Originally a baptist church that was built between 1887 and 1892, the Belfry Theatre today produces up to 12 plays a year.

See summer productions, four play Mainstage series, and the annual mid-winter SPARK festival at this historic venue. Make the most of your time in BC with a stay in Victoria. One of the very best ways to enjoy Victoria is with a tour of the Belfry Gardens.

Royal and McPherson Theatres

The Royal Theatre and McPherson Playhouse is located in downtown Victoria. It offers plays, concerts, and musicals to all Vancouver Island visitors.

Robert Bateman Center

Located in the Steamship Terminal in Victoria, the Robert Bateman Center is a premier art gallery and event centre located on Vancouver Island. The centre gets its namesake from famed artist and Canada native Robert Bateman, whose work is featured on exhibit year round.

The centre features plenty of rotating and permanent collections on display, including the Kathryn Iredale Gallery “Birdsong,” the Human Collection, and rotating exhibits like Rover Boys and oneTree. The centre is also known for hosting a variety of events aimed at discovery and the arts.