Calling all Culture Vultures! Our Favourite Art Galleries and Cultural Centres around Victoria

Photo by mritofficial on Unsplash

June in Victoria is a beautiful time of year. Summer is in the air, spring showers are few and far between and the rush of summer visitors hasn’t yet hit and the city is thrumming away at its regular, easy rhythm. However, this month of all the others can be temperamental. One day you have gorgeous glistening skies and soaring temperatures, the next, it’s overcast and windy. For those sunny days, the city is your oyster! Hike, cycle, shop, explore to your heart’s content but for those intermittent cooler days, we’ve got a list of amazing galleries, museums and cultural centers that are just the thing to make your day sunnier! 

Art Galleries

If you’re staying at Pacific Coast Beach House in the beautiful town of Sooke or Arbutus Hill in picturesque Metchosin, the South Shore Gallery in the heart of Sooke is your place to go for an eclectic collection of original artwork that include paintings, ceramics, glass, metal works, jewellery, wearables and fibre art all done by the talented British Columbians. In addition to art, this gallery also has top-of-the-line art supplies for professionals and amateurs alike. This amazingly robust gallery also offers outdoor workshops that are perfect for those without any experience, you couldn’t ask for a better location to be inspired! 

If you’re in Victoria, one of the best places to soak up some art is at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria or AGGV. Right around the corner from Manor Suite Off Rockland, this gallery was founded in 1951 and exhibited its first collections in the mansion that is now directly adjacent to the seven modern galleries. Here, visitors can see the largest public collection in BC and support an organization that has a vital role in Victoria’s art community. Located in picturesque Oak Bay, near Beach Drive Manor and Barkley Manor Executive the Avenue Art Gallery is one of the premiere boutique galleries on Vancouver Island and home to an impressive array of modern art, paintings, sculpture, glass and wearable art. This gallery is a wonderful place to view the ever-changing exhibits of fine art for people new to the contemporary art scene as well as knowledgeable collectors. Right in the heart of downtown Victoria, just a short walk away from Ironworks Living Executive Condo and The Corazon you’ll find the Alcheringa Gallery, one of the leading Indegenous galleries in the world that specializes in contemporary art from the Northwest Coast. For over 35 years, the Alcheringa Gallery has been proud to represent leading First Nations artists. Visitors to this amazing gallery will be both exposed and have access to some of the most forward thinking contemporary First Nations art in the world!

Sidney by the Sea is a beautiful town filled with little art galleries for visitors to wander through. Just north of Sidney center, right nearby Heron View Cottage you’ll find the Red Art Gallery. A lively, quirky gallery that showcases work by the local owner/artist Marion Evamy. Get a fun, personalized experience while you wander through the colourful exhibit at this oceanfront spot! In the heart of Sidney you’ll find the elegant Peninsula Gallery. Established in 1986, this gallery is home to a large collection of Canadian artists and has become one of Canada’s most well renowned galleries. The Peninsula Gallery is the place where emerging artists are given showing opportunities, nationally acclaimed Canadian artists exhibit and sell original paintings and local artists can take beginner, intermediate and advanced art classes. Whether you’re staying close by at Bazan Bay Beach House or on the other side of Peninsula at Ardmore Executive House, the Peninsula Gallery should be your first stop in Sidney to find incredible art.   

Museums and Cultural Centers

The Sooke Region Museum is a small but informative museum that focuses on highlighting the region’s history and culture. Both momentous events as well as the day-to-day life in one of the Province’s oldest, independent settlements are celebrated and explored through the exhibits of First Nations artifacts, historic photographs and more. Come and see the Triangle Island Lighthouse interpretive center and Moss Cottage for more immersive experiences and get a deeper appreciation of this area’s historical importance!

While you’re in Victoria, your first stop should be the Royal BC Museum. The beloved RBCM has something for everyone with dozens of rooms and floors to explore and if you’re staying at the Reef Executive Condo, the museum is only a short walk away. Right beside Craigdarroch Executive you’ll find Craigdarroch Castle, a stunning castle built by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir at the turn of the century. Visitors will be taken on a tour of the famous castle and learn about what life was like for the upper class in Victoria at that time. If you’re a fan of Emily Carr’s work then a visit to Carr House is definitely in order, especially if you’re two blocks away at either Beacon Hill View Condo or Seaglass Suite. The birthplace of the fiercely independent artist has been perfectly preserved and converted into a cultural center with a program series that is inspired by the themes in Carr’s life. 

The Sidney Museum opened in the early 1970s with the purpose to collect, preserve and show the historical and archival material of the area. Today, this successful local museum houses nearly 10,000 artifacts that make up the permanent exhibits ensuring these local treasures are always available to the public. In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum also offers visitors monthly featured exhibits that reflect the diversity of the area. The Shaw Center for the Salish Sea is an important not for profit community organization that showcases the importance and diversity of the Salish Sea. Here, visitors can see 35 separate aquarium habitats, a fully intact Orca skeleton, Coast Salish art, plus public programming and self guided tours . This incredible center connects visitors to the bio-region of the Salish Sea through the interactive and informative exhibits. No matter if you’re staying farther down the Peninsula at Dalmeny Farm Estate or north at the Oceanside Lodge on Saanich Inlet, these are amazing places to spend a cloudy afternoon.

No matter where you are staying on southern Vancouver Island, there are plenty of incredible cultural experiences to indulge in on cloudier days!