Library and Archives Canada unveils new exhibition: Prime Ministers and the Arts: Creators, Collectors and Muses

News release

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to share access to its vast collection with the public once again, with the official opening of its newest exhibition, Prime Ministers and the Arts: Creators, Collectors and Muses.

As the main repository of the documentary heritage of Canada’s prime ministers, LAC is providing Canadians with the chance to learn more about the artistic interests and impacts of William Lyon Mackenzie King, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Sir John Sparrow David Thompson and other prime ministers.

Taken together, the material reveals the intriguing, informal and often unexpected side of Canada’s leaders. The exhibition offers a wide-open window on the less formal—but equally fascinating—aspects of the lives of our former prime ministers. It includes art reviews written by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, poems by Mackenzie King, and a portrait of Lester B. Pearson by the renowned Indigenous artist Carl Beam.

Curated by Madeleine Trudeau and Meaghan Scanlon, this new exhibition weaves artworks, artifacts, documents, objects, portraits and photographs together, to reveal intriguing, less official, and often unexpected aspects of our prime ministers.

In addition to a wide range of rare documents drawn from LAC’s own rich collection, a corner of the exhibition space is dedicated to Mackenzie King’s library. In his will, he left much of his personal property to the people of Canada, and he appointed a group of literary executors to oversee the disposition of his papers and books.

This free exhibition runs from February 7 to December 3, 2019, at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa.


“When we think about our prime ministers, past and present, we tend to think about their policies, their politics and their place in the nation’s history. This exhibition is a chance to explore our prime ministers’ legacies through the lens of their public and personal relationships with the arts.”

Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada

Associated links


Richard Provencher
Media Relations
Library and Archives Canada

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