Library & Research

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Art collections

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Search Art Collections

Search for works of art in the Gallery’s collection.


Provenance Research

Learn about where works of art in the Gallery’s collection came from.

Library resources


Catalogue of the Gallery’s Library and Archives

Search for books, periodicals, and other materials

Books, periodicals, exhibition and auction catalogues, microforms, audiovisual materials and electronic formats are included in the catalogue.

Archives and documentation files have partial listings only in the catalogue; slides and study photographs are not included.

Holdings of the Library's documentation files on Canadian artists are listed in the Artists in Canada reference database, accessible without charge through the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN).

Some materials may not be immediately available for onsite consultation. It is advisable to contact Reader Services if you need assistance in locating material in the catalogue, or if you wish to ascertain that a title is available for use.

The Library's holdings are also recorded in AMICUS, the national union catalogue maintained by Library Archives Canada, and will also be included in Worldcat, provided by OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. The online catalogue is also searchable through the following consortium gateways, which search several catalogues at once: (Virtual Catalogue for Art History) and SmartLibrary, serving the National Capital Region of Canada.

Special Collections

Library Special Collections

Read about special collections of rare and illustrated books in the Library

Special Collections contain exceptional materials such as rare Canadian and foreign imprints, early illustrated books, Canadian bookplates and contemporary artist books and multiples, as well as notable subject collections, among them the Art Metropole and Kodak collections; holdings related to Canadian artists, such as Franklin Carmichael, Charles Fraser Comfort, Carl Fellman Schaefer, Fritz Brandtner, and C.W. Jefferys; and those related to historians of Canadian art, such as J. Russell Harper, Jacqueline Fry, Doris Shadbolt, Sandra Buhai Barz, and Bruce Russell.


Art Metropole Collection

Search for artists’ books and multiples, mail art, posters and more.

The Art Metropole Collection database contains 12,611 records for individual items, such as artists' books, multiples and posters, exhibition catalogues, etc., as well as analytics for individual artists represented in group exhibitions, and index entries for anthologies and artists' periodicals. The database, however, does not account for, at the item level, a significant body of material in archival fonds (e.g. the General Idea fonds, David Buchan fonds, Ray Johnson mail art, and Art Metropole fonds, although finding aids have been prepared for this material), and in documentation files (on, for example, Canadian artist-run centres).

Archival collections

Finding Aids

Finding aids

Read about collections in the Gallery’s Archives

Finding aids to the personal and corporate fonds in the National Gallery of Canada Archives are listed below. Finding aids vary in the level of detail they provide: some describe the records at a fonds or collection level only, while others describe records at a series, file, or item level. These finding aids are also available through ArchiveGrid from OCLC.

Subject access to the personal and corporate fonds can be had by searching the catalogue of the Library and Archives, where fonds or collection level descriptions to these records can be found.


Slides and photographs

Read about the Gallery’s visual resources collections

Visual Resources collections encompass more than 182,000 slides of works of art in Canada, North America, and western Europe, with special emphasis on National Gallery of Canada collections and exhibitions. The Library retains historical installation slides of the Gallery's permanent collection and exhibitions, as well as slides which document the Gallery buildings, previous and present.

Look up an artist

Artists Canada

Artists in Canada

Find files on Canadian artists

The Documentation collection consists of more than 80,000 documentation files that contain information on the National Gallery of Canada, on Canadian art schools, galleries, and societies, and on Canadian and non-Canadian artists, museums, collectors, curators, art historians, art administrators, and trustees. Files may contain any of the following types of documentation: newspaper clippings, press releases, obituaries, exhibition notices, and other printed ephemera, as well as biographical information supplied by the artists. The files are divided between Canadian and non-Canadian material, and their scope reflects the collecting areas of the National Gallery.

Holdings of the Library's documentation files on Canadian artists are listed in the Artists in Canada database. Artists in Canada is a bilingual union list of documentation files and biographical information on more than 52,000 Canadian artists, held by 23 libraries and art galleries across the country. It is compiled and maintained by the National Gallery Library and hosted by the Canadian Heritage Information Network.

Indexto Art Canada

Index to Art in Canada to 1930

Search for works of art listed in Canadian exhibition, auction and collection catalogues.

The Index to Art in Canada to 1930 provides an index to works of art listed in Canadian exhibition, auction and collection catalogues, from 1823 (the date of the earliest catalogue so far identified) up to and including 1930.

The following catalogues have been indexed: all catalogues dated before 1900; all catalogues published by the National Gallery of Canada, as well as unpublished checklists of exhibitions held at the Gallery, from its foundation in 1880 to 1930; a growing number of catalogues for exhibitions held outside the National Gallery of Canada between 1900 and 1930.

In total, the database contains entries for over 74,000 entries for works of art in over 380 catalogues.

Inuit artists print

Inuit Artists' Print Database

Search for prints produced by Canadian Inuit artists from 1957 to the present.

The Inuit Artists' Print database assembles information on 8000 prints produced by Canadian Inuit artists from 1957 to the present. The information derives from the inspection of prints in many collections. It is not a catalogue of prints in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada: you can search for prints in the Gallery's collection here. The database is an online version of The Inuit Artists Print Workbook, edited by Sandra B. Barz (3rd edition. New York: Arts & Culture of the North, 2004). It is designed to help researchers, museum staff, exhibition curators, collectors, dealers and anyone interested in Inuit prints to identify them and to learn more about them.

History of the National Gallery of Canada


Gallery History

See a timeline of the Gallery’s history

Past Exhibitions

Past Exhibitions

See a complete list of past Gallery exhibitions.

Chronological lists of National Gallery of Canada exhibitions, 1880-2009, and Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography Exhibitions, 1985-2002, have been compiled. Online records have also been created in the Library catalogue for all research materials housed in the Library and Archives which relate to the exhibition history of the institution, 1880 to the present.

Gallery Archives Database

Gallery Archives Database

Search for National Gallery of Canada archival records.

Descriptions of the National Gallery of Canada's own institutional records can be found in the archives database. Records can be located by using file title or file creator as search terms or by using keywords. Descriptions of records related to National Gallery of Canada exhibitions are also included in the catalogue of the Library and Archives; they can be found by using the title of the exhibition as a search term or by using subject headings, including personal names.

Digital collections


Canadian Painting in the 30s

Learn about Canadian painting in the 1930s through digitised materials from the Gallery’s 1975 exhibition.

Canadian Painting in the Thirties brings to life an important 1975 exhibition presented across the country by the National Gallery of Canada. An innovative study of the period, this exhibition documents the development of Canadian modernist painting, from the nationalism of early schools of landscape painting to the international trends of the 1940s.

Explore the cultural, social, economic and political factors that influenced artistic life in Canada during the 1930s, as you browse through the original exhibition catalogue, installation photographs, and newspaper clippings. Watch a film and listen to interviews with the artists and their associates.

In addition to artworks featured in the original exhibition, Canadian Painting in the Thirties features many other related works from the National Gallery's collection.


National Gallery of Canada Bulletin 1963-1985

Read articles from this digitised Gallery publication.

The National Gallery of Canada’s Bulletin and Annual Bulletin were published between 1963 and 1985, containing articles on art with a focus on Canadian art and on the Gallery’s own collections. These articles, written by external scholars as well as Gallery staff, were intended to appeal not only to interested historians and researchers, but also to the general public with an enjoyment and appreciation of the arts. The 104 articles are presented here in a digital version of the 30 Bulletins and 8 Annual Bulletins.

Canadian Souvenir

Canadian Souvenir View Albums

View photograph albums of Canada, from the Library collection.

Canadian souvenir view albums, published from the 1880s through the 1930s, occupy a singular place in the history of Canadian bibliography. Having antecedents in the travel narratives, topographical views and guidebooks that recorded and illustrated the early periods of European exploration and settlement of the country, souvenir view albums, with their distinctive formats, a proliferation of photomechanically reproduced images, and little or no text, are peculiar to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This site features albums from the collection of the National Gallery of Canada Library.

Electronic Resources


Online research databases

Search a range of online databases (note: access may be restricted to Gallery staff or on-site users).

Other Library Catalogues

Other library catalogues

Search the online catalogues of other libraries in the National Capital region and elsewhere.