MacLaren Art Centre

MacLaren Art Centre is an iconic art complex in the heart of downtown Barrie that houses over 26,000 exceptional works of art. Plus there’s a roster of programs and events that’s worth checking out, whether this is your first visit or your fiftieth.

A major public art gallery, the MacLaren Art Centre not only showcases the diverse talents of established Canadian artists, it’s also a venue that encourages amateur artists to flourish by including their work through community art exhibits. The MacLaren hosts a variety of visual arts programs and activities including engaging speaking forums, art classes and workshops designed to challenge, inspire and stimulate creativity.

Wander through the expansive MacLaren Art Centre to discover various galleries, including a community gallery and a space for permanent collections, a room for prints and drawing collections, an education centre where lectures and tours take place and a multi-purpose room used for events.

Visit the licensed café for an assortment of salads, soups, sandwiches and specialty drinks. Relax in the garden patio surrounded by well-manicured trees and shrubs, plus stunning sculptures from Canadian artists. The intimate reception space and garden sets the perfect backdrop for a romantic wedding venue. In the cooler months, enjoy a meal in front of the café’s warm fireplace.

The gallery gift shop is just as intriguing as the rest of MacLaren Art Centre. Peruse the shop for treasured replicas of items featured in exhibitions, and one-of-a-kind gifts and souvenirs crafted by talented local artisans. Sales from the gift shop items help support the MacLaren’s art programming. For additional personalization of gifts, the centre also provides a high-quality framing service for pictures and artwork.

For up-to-date information and details on exhibits and events at the MacLaren Art Centre, we recommend you visit their website. For information about other places of interest to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see what Destination Ontario recommends.

More about MacLaren Art Centre

The original location of the MacLaren Art Centre was the home of the gallery’s namesake Maurice MacLaren, a rich art collector who bequeathed his Victorian mansion and art collection to the City of Barrie and the Barrie Gallery Project, a not-for-profit charitable organization that incorporated the gallery in 1986. Later in 2001, the gallery moved from Maurice MacLean’s residence to Barrie’s Carnegie Library, a city landmark that was constructed at the turn of the century. A clean and modern addition to the historical Carnegie landmark resulted in a perfect balance of new and old architecture. The design received critical acclaim, including the National Post Design Exchange Award of Merit.

Located a few blocks north of the Barrie waterfront, the MacLaren Art Centre is open to the public seven days a week, with a suggested $5 price of admission. You can also contribute a donation to support the many programs offered at the MacLaren Art Centre. Both English and French speaking guides are available for walking tours of the gallery.

Families can enjoy quality programs all year round, including during holidays and school breaks.  

Sunday Family Workshops are led by local artists and encourage families to unleash their artistic talents and bond together through art. Art parties bring together adults of all artistic levels, while special programs led by art therapists are geared for teens.

The MacLaren Arts Centre continually promotes community engagement and love of art through thought provoking exhibits and inclusive, innovative public programs and activities.

It’s truly a local gem!

Last updated: August 18, 2023

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