A- Z Travels: A is for Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

Welcome to my new feature A-Z Travels. I’ve set myself the challenge of writing a blog post for each letter of the alphabet from start to finish. My first attempt is going to be focused on Canada with a mix of old and new adventures. I hope you look forward to seeing it each Monday!

So, in the words of Julie Andrews, lets start at the very beginning with A for Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Location: 1723 Hollis Street, Halifax

Cost: $12 adults $7 students $5 kids 6-17 or FREE on Thursday evenings

Parking: no on-site parking so visit on a weekend when parking is free downtown

I was quite excited when a new friend asked if I wanted to visit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Matt doesn’t enjoy art galleries, apart from the MoMA in New York which at the time of visiting had a Pac-Man arcade game that you could play as an exhibit. To delay his boredom, we usually end up playing a game which we’ve named ‘Would you own this?’ where we each choose the item which we wouldn’t mind having on display in our own home. It’s fun to play at modern art galleries in particular where the pieces are far more unusual!

The gallery has great collection of Nova Scotian folk art which was something I had never seen before. I was even lucky enough to be there for a special exhibition on artist Maud Lewis, one of the most famous Canadian folk artists known for her bright paintings of rural Nova Scotia. It was such a beautiful collection and it was great to see many of the places I have visited represented in such a colourful way.

Mostly outdoor scenes of her rural life, her subjects were often flowers, oxen, horses, birds or cats in bright paints. However, the highlight of the exhibition was her home which was saved from demolition. The small wooden cabin is painted from top to bottom and looked like a truly wonderful place to be creative.

There was a second special exhibition by Bruce MacKinnon (also native to Nova Scotia) of caricatures of Canadian Prime Ministers. I must admit I only really knew Trudeau, but my friend explained a few of them to me.

After this we viewed the galleries permanent collections which explored things such as contemporary photography, nautical folk art, Aboriginal art from across Canada and sacred arts from centuries past.

What I loved the most about the gallery was its ties to Nova Scotia and the Atlantic Provinces, even its international collections were tied to the East Coast in some way. It was wonderful to see a celebration of eastern Canada through pieces that were both historic and contemporary. It would have been an easy game of ‘Would you own this?’!

In addition to exploring the gallery we also indulged in some great food. Doughnuts for breakfast at Vandal Doughnuts in the North End of Halifax. The funky little shop inside a pub had a doughnut for everyone, including vegan options. I purchased a Boston Cream, Strawberry Crumble, Oreo Twist and Hot Chocolate doughnut. They were drool-worthy! They even did a classic pink Homer Simpson edition. I’m dreaming about my next visit already.

For lunch we intended to go to Hali Deli (a Jewish Deli featured on You Gotta Eat Here) But we spent so long at the Gallery that it was closed by the time we got there, so that will have to be for another day. Instead we ventured to Darrell’s to try one of their famous burgers. It was a pretty good burger (and I know my burgers!) I can see why it had been voted one of Canada’s top 8 burgers. I had the Hawaiian Burger and my friend had the Peanut Butter burger and we headed home feeling cultured and well fed.

Next week is going to be B for Banff and I’ll be looking at why you should visit during shoulder season. I hope you’ll join me again for A-Z Travels. Thanks for reading 😊

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