Vancouver Art Association

January 18 1889 - c1894

The Vancouver Art Association was the first art organization in Vancouver. In 1890, from October 6th to 11th, the group held their First Annual Exhibition in the Art Gallery located in the Lefevre Block on Hasting Street. There were 338 paintings in the exhibition, a huge number to have on display.

The Association produced an extensive, lithographed exhibition catalogue for the show. It included a complete list of all artwork in the show, the owners and artists of the works; a list of members of the Association; and programmes for a number of activities associated with the exhibition - a Musicale, a Ball, and other events. There were also a number of advertisements for various local businesses.

The exhibition was an excellent effort by a small group of people, but it would be ten years until an equivalent exhibition was mounted in Vancouver. There was a loan of a number of British Columbia paintings by Lucius Richard O'Brien, the Founding President of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

There were 59 members listed in the exhibition catalogue for the 1st Annual Exhibition, as well as six patrons and fifteen officers.

In 1894 the Association organized another exhibition, at Dunn Hall on Granville Street. A copy of the programme is shown above. After this the Association became known as the Art, Historical, and Scientific Association of Vancouver. Refer also to articles noted below.


1889 June Loan Exhibition Van Horne Block, Granville Street
1890 October 6 - 11 1st Annual Exhibition Art Gallery, Lefevre Block, Hastings Street
1891 2nd Annual Exhibition (paintings & loan collection) Empty store, Granville Street
1894 November 6 Art Exhibition Dunn Hall, Granville Street


      "The first Art Association in Vancouver was formed in the 1889. This seems to have been the result of a suggestion made to the late S. Gertrude Mellon by an old country relative who proposed a centenary celebration of the building, by Captain Meares in June 1788, of the first fort at Nootka Sound, under the auspices of the East India Company. The Daily News-Advertiser of September 22nd, 1887, commented upon the suggestion and discussed the advisability of having some Historical society which should gather and preserve all records and information connected with the history of British Columbia. The matter was freely discussed for some time, and efforts to form some society of the sort were made from time to time. Through various ups and downs, there finally evolved the First Annual Exhibition, held by the Vancouver Art Association in the Art Gallery, Lefevre Block, Hastings Street, which continued for one week, October 6 - 11, 1890.
      After this, the Art Association seems to have disappeared, but the Daily News-Advertiser, April 15th, 1894, contains this notice: "It is proposed to revive the Art Association of Vancouver and also to enlarge its scope by the addition of an historical and scientific department."
      "The First Art Organization in Vancouver", Museum Notes, Vol. III, No. 3. September 1928
      Published by the Art, Historical and Scientific Association of Vancouver

"From the newspaper files could be obtained, notices of the second exhibition. That was held in an empty store on Granville Street, and was opened by the Governor; was not only an exhibition of paintings, but a loan collection of china and valuable bric-a-brac. ... It was surprising to find such a collection in a place like Vancouver in those days."
       From personal correspondence, Mrs. Annie E. Richards (formerly Mrs. (Capt.) Webster, 1939
       Vancouver Art Gallery file on Vancouver Art Association