virtual art museums canada
Art by Nathan Eugene Carson. Photo by Toni Hafkenscheid/The Power Plant

9 Canadian Art Exhibits You Can Visit Virtually Right From Home

Canadian art venues like the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, The Power Plant and the Bata Shoe Museum are offering interactive online content and virtual tours.

Most of this year has been spent in lockdown, which means we’ve all been starved of art and creative stimulation for several months. It’s looking like museum and gallery visits will be off the table for the rest of 2020, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still get our art fix. Across Canada, art galleries and museums have pivoted to offering free virtual tours and interactive online exhibits. Read on for nine such venues you can explore digitally from the safety of your own homes.

The Power Plant

Toronto’s Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery is offering free virtual tours of its current and past exhibits. Their Fall 2020 programming features solo exhibitions by Nathan E. Carson, an artist from Hamilton, Ont. whose mixed media works weave together themes of Black identity and history; Manuel Mathieu, a Haiti-born, Montreal-based artist whose solo show sheds light on Haiti’s relationship to the world; and Howie Tsui, a Vancouver-based artist known for his blend of  classical and contemporary Chinese art. An archive of the gallery’s past exhibits dating back to the Summer 2016 season is also available to view online.


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Art Gallery of Burlington

While the current exhibits on display at this Burlington, Ont. art gallery aren’t available for virtual exploration, a recent exhibit that closed in July—titled Division of Labour—is viewable online. The virtual gallery tour offers a look at all the artworks featured in the exhibit, which brought together artists who address issues of class, race, and labour as they relate to cultural waste.

McMichael Gallery

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection (MCAC), an art museum in Vaughan, Ont., is offering free virtual tours of two of its recent exhibits—Uprising: The Power of Mother Earth, a retrospective of Métis visual artist Christi Belcourt’s 25-year body of work; and “A Like Vision”: The Group of Seven at 100, celebrating the centenary of the Group of Seven’s first exhibition. Each virtual 60-minute tour is limited to 30 participants to allow for questions and discussion, so be sure to register online to reserve a spot. The former virtual tour is offered on Mondays, and the latter on Tuesdays and Sundays, with both coming to a close on November 30.


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Myseum of Toronto

Earlier this fall Myseum, a museum dedicated to Toronto history and culture, offered an open call for Asian-Canadians to send in digital submissions about their life in lockdown. The initiative, for which Myseum partnered with Chinatown arts space Tea Base, led to Quarantine Qapsule (QQ), a digital archive of the Asian-Canadian experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the submissions shared on the site so far include Quarantine & Chill, a love song inspired by the events of 2020; vibrant artwork by Jieun June Kim, drawing on myths and folklore from her homeland of Korea; and an illustrated zine of artist Meegan Lim’s mother’s best Malaysian recipes. View them all here.


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Bata Shoe Museum

Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum is offering a daily slate of interactive online content—such as Instagram trivia contests, a storytime series on YouTube, and an “Ask a Curator” IGTV video series led by the museum’s senior curator Elizabeth Semmelhack—under the umbrella #BSMFromHome. The museum’s recent Standing TALL: The Curious History of Men in Heels exhibit is also available to view online.


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The National Ballet of Canada

One of the few ballet companies to possess a historical archive, this digital collection takes you back through several decades of Canada’s ballet history. The archives were created in 1975 and contain artifacts from notable ballet productions such as Cinderella, Don Quixote and Swan Lake. Each exhibit in The National Ballet of Canada’s Virtual Museum features archival material like set and costume sketches, photographs and videos, footwear, costumes, artifacts and more. See it all here. In addition, a performance of The Nutcracker captured live at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto will be available to stream online via Cineplex Store and shown in select theatres across Canada from December 4.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

In addition to digital tours of its galleries via a mobile app, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is offering a variety of interactive online events to keep people entertained at home, such as art therapy sessions, creative workshops for kids and adults, webinars on topics like “Paris in the Days of Post-Impressionism,” and a behind-the-scenes look at the 2019 fashion exhibit “Thierry Mugler: Couturissime” with the exhibition’s curators. Next Wednesday, November 25, the museum is broadcasting the launch event for its next major exhibition, “Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures” on Facebook Live.


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Royal Ontario Museum

Three of the Royal Ontario Museum’s exhibits are available to view online: Blue Whale Project, which follows a small ROM team’s efforts to save a Blue Whale that had washed ashore in Newfoundland in 2014; Born of the Indian Ocean, about the silks of Highland Madagascar; and The Burgess Shale: The Virtual Museum of Canada, about the Burgess Shale in BC’s Yoho National Park, which preserves one of the world’s first complex marine ecosystems. They’re also offering a show for kids every Tuesday at 2pm over Instagram Live, hosted by ROM Kids Coordinator and Camp Director Kiron Mukherjee, who shares activities, at-home crafts and fun facts with his young audience.


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Vancouver Art Gallery

When museums and galleries began to close down across Canada in March 2020, the Vancouver Art Gallery launched Art Connects, a series of virtual gatherings that encourages dialogue and connection. In lieu of on-site programming, the Gallery now streams live and interactive conversations on Zoom featuring guests from local and international arts communities. The gallery also launched Art At Home, a series of digital family programs designed to inspire families to get creative at home with various art-making activities inspired by the gallery’s works.

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