The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria celebrates 70 years at its Moss Street location this month. After years of searching for a location in downtown Victoria, the Victoria Arts Centre opened to the public in the fall of 1951.
The Victoria Arts Centre opened in the donated home of Sara Spencer, which remains a part of the AGGV today. Spencer donated her home, Gyppeswyk, which was accepted as a temporary location for the gallery by the board of the day, for use for a maximum of 20 years.
“We are forever grateful to Sara Spencer and the original board of the Victoria Arts Centre for their work in securing a home for Victoria’s public art gallery,” said acting AGGV director Janyce Ronson.“With a proposed new gallery in Victoria’s Arts and Innovation District, we are now closer than ever to securing a site in downtown Victoria, fulfilling the 70-year mandate of our organization.”
The Victoria Arts Centre proved to be popular, attracting 20,000 visitors between September of 1951 and December of 1952. The official opening was delayed until October 15, 1952 and was presided over by Canada’s Governor General of the day, Vincent Massey.
In 1958, the gallery’s new Centennial Galleries were opened in celebration of British Columbia’s centennial celebrations. With the completion of the new wing, the name was changed to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Now, with more up-to-date gallery space, larger exhibitions could be hosted. The Pollard Gallery extension opened in 1978.
Renovations, including an updated climate-control system, took place between 2001 and 2003, enabling the museum to host travelling exhibitions that include works needing a climate-controlled environment.
The AGGV currently holds over 20,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the largest holding of any museum in British Columbia. The AGGV’s renowned Asian Art Collection features over 8,000 pieces, making it the second largest collection of Asian Art in Canada.