Temporary exhibits - Public art and monuments

Explore the art that adds warmth and vibrancy to the streets, parks and plazas of Ottawa–Gatineau. Temporary exhibits in Canada’s Capital Region showcase artistic achievements from across the country, celebrate our diverse identity and highlight significant milestones in Canadian history.

Art in the Capital

Many factors contribute to making a great capital region and public art is one of them. The Art in the Capital program exhibits public artworks created by Canadian artists in Canada’s Capital Region. These exhibits are temporary and change regularly.

A number of thought-provoking, evocative and fun installations will be exhibited in Ottawa and Gatineau region during 2017/2018.

New: The Gather-Ring

The Gather-Ring: circular cedar base on which stand four wood columns. On top, a patterned canopy with the shape of a dream catcher.
The Gather-Ring, by Manuel A. Baez and Charlynne Lafontaine, on the Portage Bridge Plaza.

The Gather-Ring is a new public artwork inspired by two iconic symbols that are deeply rooted in Indigenous traditions, the Tree and the Dream Catcher. Trees have always played a vital role across the land on which Canada was founded, bearing witness to our histories. Dream Catchers have the power to capture our positive thoughts, dreams, and visions, offering to lead us towards a bright future. The Tree, represented here by the circular cedar base, and the Dream Catcher, by the patterned canopy with hand-blown glass pendants above, are both brought together within The Gather-Ring.

Manuel A. Baez (Designer, Architect (New York)) and Charlynne Lafontaine (Artist) created The Gather-Ring as an interactive art piece meant to evoke diverse cultural interpretations and offer a symbolic circle for cultural exchange, storytelling, discussion and reflection. At night, The Gather-Ring is illuminated, providing a memorable visual experience!

We invite you to discover this original artwork, located on the Portage Bridge Plaza in Ottawa, until July 2018.

New: Rich Like a Harmony of Colour

Rich Like a Harmony of Colour installed in the York Street Steps : a big multicoloured Maple Leaf.
Rich Like a Harmony of Colour, by Clara Micheau, in the York Street Steps.

Canada is shaped by its people. Each face contributes in its own way to the cultural wealth of this country through its personal history, values, traditions and ambitions. It is the diversity of all these expressions that forges Canadian uniqueness.

This theme inspired artist Clara Micheau to create a digital image called Rich Like a Harmony of Colour to adorn the York Street Steps in Ottawa. Clara is studying visual arts at Cégep Saint-Laurent in Montréal, Quebec. Her creation portrays Canada’s diversity through a colourful design: “A colour is unique, but combined with other colours, it becomes vibrant and comes alive. The Maple Leaf, like our flag, represents that we are united as a country.”

The image will be displayed until spring 2018.

New: Myth and Evidence

Myth and Evidence sulpture representing the shape of a unicorn inside a frosted glass display.
Myth and Evidence, by Mathieu Valade, at Laurier/Portage Bridge in Gatineau.

Myth and Evidence is a creation by Canadian artist Mathieu Valade. It is displayed at Laurier/Portage Bridge in Gatineau.

The artwork represents a unicorn that is both identifiable and indistinct: we recognize its form, but, displayed inside a frosted glass case, it becomes somewhat imprecise, a bit like the blurry photographs of the supposed Loch Ness monster.

Myth and Evidence was originally presented in 2017 at the event Manif d’art 8. It is now displayed in Canada’s Capital Region until June 2018 thanks to a collaboration with EXMURO arts publics.

In Fine Feather

An unusual and exhilarating look at the migratory birds of Canada through the eyes of art students from Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.

This exhibit is a collaboration with Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment and Climate Change Canada and is managed by Canadian Heritage. The theme was chosen to mark the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, one of the first wildlife conservation laws in the world.

Untitled (detail)
Kevin Melanson
Woodcut/monoprint (quadriptych)

It is on display at Laurier Street, between Victoria and Hôtel-de-Ville Streets in Gatineau, until December 2017.The works of 14 incredibly talented art students are showcased:

  • Isabel Francolini – Red Knot, Common Nighthawk, Canada Warbler
  • Brenna MacMillan – Patterns
  • Lucy Koshan – Untitled (Migratory path of the Semipalmated sandpiper)
  • Savannah Harris – Flight
  • Hilary Drake – Lapland Longspur, Bicknell’s Thrush, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Orchard Oriole, Le Conte’s Sparrow, Blackpoll Warbler, Purple Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Baltimore Oriole, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Smith’s Longspur, Golden-crowned Sparrow
  • Sylvan Hamburger – Border Crossing
  • Corryn Bamber – To and From
  • Nelligan Letourneau – Cedar Waxwing Duo, Pair of Yellow Warblers, Barn Swallow Buds
  • Melissa Brunet – 2 Homes
  • Adrian Kiva – Untitled
  • Emma Hoch – At Risk
  • Sara Camus – Hairy Woodpecker
  • Evan Furness – Last call from marshlands
  • Kevin Melanson – Untitled

Learn more about migratory birds evoked in the works on Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Until May 2018, discover for yourself the work of these Canadian artists who were initially presented in 2014 and 2015 at Passages insolites in Quebec, an event financed by the City of Quebec and produced by EXMURO arts publics.

Solitary by Diane Landry (in collaboration with Francis Labissonnière) at York Street /Jeanne d’Arc Courtyard in Ottawa.
The Odyssey (in French only) by Cooke-Sasseville at parc Montcalm-Taché in Gatineau.

Tipping Point by José Luis Torres at the Clarendon Courtyard in Ottawa.

We also invite you to pause for a public art break and admire sculptures from Canadian artists Marc-Antoine Côté and Randall Anderson. Until October 2017, their works are displayed on the public plazas on the south side of the Alexandra Bridge in Ottawa (across from the National Gallery of Canada).

Il/elle n’a pas de nom from Marc-Antoine Côté located on the Alexandra Bridge Plaza (photo Studio Versa)
Zoom! V2 from Randall Anderson located on the Alexandra Bridge Plaza (photo Studio Versa)

Art in the Courtyards

The Sussex Courtyards are a sequence of five inner courtyards located behind Sussex Drive, in the ByWard Market area of Ottawa. They are popular during the warmer seasons and represent an oasis of peace and shade for visitors and locals, as well as providing seating areas, cafe terraces, and boutiques.

The Art in the Courtyards program showcases Canadian art and artists, by presenting exhibits on a range of themes, in these unexpected outdoor locations.

In 2017, the exhibit Traces: Indigenous Artists Moving Through Memory explores the various forms in which vision and experience can be revealed by the Indigenous voice. The 16 reproductions presented in the courtyards were selected from the Indigenous Art Collection, owned by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, which includes more than 4,000 works.

Some reproductions of works in the Art in the Courtyards exhibition
  • Christi Belcourt - This Painting Is a Mirror, 2012
  • Bob Boyer - Boye Ladd Says There Are No Indians in Vietnam Movies, 1990
  • Christian Chapman - Don’t Whistle at the Northern Lights, 2010
  • Ruth Cuthand - She Chose to Dance instead of Putting Peas in her Shoes, 1983
  • Jerry A. Evans - Qalipu Migrations, 2012
  • Faye HeavyShield - Slivers, 2010
  • Tom Hill - Allegory to MGM, 1973
  • Meelia Kelly - Together on a Winter Night, 2003
  • George Littlechild - Who Stole the Teepee, 1994
  • Teresa Marshall - Mi’kmaq World View, 2005
  • Glenna Matoush - My Great Grandfather, Chief Yellow Head, Who’s Buried under McDonald’s on Yonge Street in Toronto, 1995
  • Shirley Moorhouse - We Stand on Guard, 2011
  • Marianne Nicolson - Portrait of a Mother and a Daughter, "Portrait of Gik’anala" 2001
  • Rick Rivet - Whaler Mask, 1999
  • Arthur Shilling - Glenna, 1967
  • Ningeokuluk Teeve - Kiviuq, 2016

Château Laurier Terrace Exhibit

The Château Laurier Terrace Exhibit, overlooking the Ottawa Locks of the Rideau Canal

The lower terrace of the historic Fairmont Château Laurier is the ideal location for an annual outdoor exhibit. Overlooking the Ottawa Locks of the Rideau Canal, with views of Parliament, the Ottawa River, Canadian Museum of History and the Gatineau Hills, this image-based summer display adds to the enjoyment of such a scenic and breathtaking venue.

Confederation Boulevard Banners

Banners on Confederation Boulevard

Each year Canadian Heritage flies over 500 banners along Confederation Boulevard, the Capital’s ceremonial route in downtown Ottawa–Gatineau. The banners highlight Canada’s provinces and territories and special anniversaries.

  • Provincial and Territorial Banners
    • The colourful provincial and territorial banners provide a window on Canada. Each year we focus on a different theme to showcase the character of each part of the country.

  • Commemorative Banners
    • We also have special commemorative banner series that highlights significant milestones in Canadian history, Canadian culture and special events, the themes for which vary from year to year.

Decoding ART

Scan, listen and discover art in a whole new way with Decoding ART

The Decoding ART program uses modern technology to help interpret monuments and public art in Canada’s Capital Region. Visitors can access audio-visual capsules by scanning a QR code with their mobile device. The codes are found on Decoding ART signs located near select works.

Currently, the program offers interpretive clips for both adults and children at 14 different monuments and works of public art in Ottawa-Gatineau.

Plaza Bridge Photo Exhibit

The Plaza Bridge Photo Exhibit, located across from the National War Memorial

The Plaza Bridge, across from the National War Memorial, is the location of an annual outdoor image-based exhibit from May to October.

The exhibit is in a large and visually dynamic format, and offers visitors to Canada’s Capital engaging and interesting information on significant Canadian anniversaries, achievements or historical events.

The seasonal exhibits reflect and celebrate our country and our people through art. Find out more about other forms of commemorative and public art in Canada’s Capital Region.

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