Ontario Tourism Blog

Things to do Ottawa- National Gallery of Canada

By Karl Monday, June 25, 2012

Things to do in Ottawa- Visiting the National Gallery of Canada

Things to do in Ottawa- National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada located in Ottawa

Seeing a painting by Van Gogh in person is so much different than seeing it on a computer screen or replicated on a glossy poster.  You are able to see the texture and brush strokes so clearly and the colors just seem so much brighter than they do anywhere else.  The experience of seeing the art becomes personal and not just another picture you might see on television or the internet.  Recently I had a chance to experience Van Gogh’s paintings in person at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

Usually I invite friends or family with me on these mini-adventures, but this time I decided to go alone. I wanted to experience Van Gogh and the Gallery without any unnecessary distractions.

When I arrived at the beautiful National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa I had to stop and admire the amazing architecture.  I walked in through the main entrance and into the Colonnade, which looks kind of like Superman’s house on Krypton.  It is a cathedral of granite and glass that makes everything seem very open and bright.

I made my way along one of the longest ramps in recent architecture to the Great Hall, which is even more impressive than the Colonnade.  As I stood in the Great Hall I could look out its massive windows and see the Parliament Buildings, the Ottawa River, and the Gatineau Hills all framed by the massive panels of glass.

The entire National Gallery of Canada was beautiful but I was here to see Van Gogh and needed to get moving.  The Gallery is open from 10am-5pm so I only had a few hours to walk through as much as I could and then grab a bite to eat at the Cafeteria des Beaux-arts.

I made my way to the Van Gogh: Up Close exhibition and began my tour through the 40 plus paintings.  The paintings are from public and private collections around the world and explore Van Gogh’s love for nature and show off his immense talent not only for portraits but for landscapes as well.  Many of the paintings I had the opportunity to see are considered his most radical and innovative work.

Every painting I saw was amazing and I felt like I could wander and get lost in the wonderful world of Van Gogh for days, but just as I was staring at a blade of grass in one of the paintings a tour group came behind me and I was jolted from my daydream.  It was fine though because it was 4 o’clock and I needed to get moving if I was going to have a chance to eat at the Cafeteria.

The Cafeteria des Beaux-arts is located just off the Great Hall and sports its own glass rotunda and private patio.  I sat down at my table and noticed the views of Nepean Point, Parliament Hill and the Ottawa River.  It seemed like the view from any table would be great.

Not only was the view spectacular but the food was great as well.  I hadn’t expected a lot from a Cafeteria at an art gallery but I should have known this isn’t just an art gallery and it was not just a cafeteria.  I had baked salmon with pasta and roasted vegetables and it only cost $6.50! I added a beer so that basically doubled the cost of my lunch but it was worth it.

The whole day was a treat and I plan on getting back to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa as much as possible.  Maybe next time I will invite some friends since everyone should get a chance to enjoy the amazing works of art and beautiful architecture and views.

If you feel like visiting the National Gallery of Canada soon, or are in Ottawa and looking for something to do, I would suggest visiting on Canada Day (July 1st) because there is free general admission.  Otherwise it is $9 for adults and $4 for kids with 12 years old and under in for free.  Special exhibits are a little more expensive but not outrageous.  For more info visit www.gallery.ca.


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