Christi Belcourt, The Wisdom of the Universe

Christi Belcourt, The Wisdom of the Universe, 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 171 x 282 cm. Purchased with funds donated by Greg Latremoille, 2014. © Christi Belcourt 2014/6.

The J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous & Canadian Art


Admission is always FREE for AGO Members, AGO Annual Pass Holders & Indigenous Peoples. Learn more.


The McLean Centre for Indigenous + Canadian Art features captivating and crucial works of art from our collections. These permanent collection galleries centre Indigenous artworks and ideas as a key starting place for telling stories from contemporary perspectives. We keep artists at the core while engaging visitors with new and familiar thought-provoking works. These thematic galleries do not present one story or idea but instead encourage audiences to find their own pathways and entry points.

“The McLean Centre enables the AGO to showcase Indigenous art leading conversations with Canadian art, and to highlight critical discussions about philosophy, world health, kinship, history and sovereignty.” - Wanda Nanibush, Curator, Indigenous Art, at the AGO.

Excitingly, the Centre also includes many new dedicated spaces for Indigenous art which feature Inuit solo exhibitions. Featuring new acquisitions alongside well-known works from our collection, visitors will see artwork by Indigenous artists such as Shelley Niro, Robert Markle, Christi Belcourt, Norval Morrisseau, Marianne Nicolson, Carl Beam, Lori Blondeau, Travis Shilling, among others, along with work by Inuit artists Niap, David Ruben, Tim Pitsiulak, Barry Pottle and Maureen Gruben. Canadian artists include Natalka Husar, Sandra Brewster, Suzy Lake, Joanne Tod, Françoise Sullivan, Kim Ondaatje, and many more. The installations change over time and new artists are continually introduced.

“Embracing multidisciplinarity, the galleries showcase painting, drawing, photography, new media, installation, sculpture and storytelling. These works activate inter-generational relationships and conversations.” – Georgiana Uhlyarik, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art, at the AGO.

Our installations are conceived from within our co-leadership curatorial structure, founded on the principles of the nation-to-nation treaty relationship between specific First Nations and Britain that served as the foundation of Canada. Time and again, Britain—and Canada—have broken these treaties with First Nations through the process of colonization.

We honour these treaty obligations by acting on the principles outlined in the peace and friendship treaties: mutual respect and sharing, non-interference, honest dealings, and actions that demonstrate integrity.

To acknowledge that we are on Indigenous land we translate texts into Indigenous languages. The AGO building is situated on Michi Saagiig (Mississauga, Anishinaabe) territory and is governed by Treaty 13, and so all texts are translated into Anishinaabemowin. For the Inuit collection on view, we also include texts in Inuktitut, in honour of our large collection and our responsibility to the communities that create the work from which the works come.

Treaties are about sharing power and land. The Dish with One Spoon is a treaty between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe to peaceably share and protect the resources around the Great Lakes. Art has a role to play in keeping the dish full.

In winter 2022, Moving the Museum: Indigenous + Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, edited by Wanda Nanibush and Georgiana Uhlyarik, will be available.


Collage by Daphne Odjig. Collage on board.

Daphne Odjig. Collage, 1969. Collage on board, 92.1 × 62.2 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario. Purchase, with funds from the Beryl Ivey Fund, 2019. © Estate of Daphne Odjig. 2019/2265.

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June by Lynn Donoghue. Oil on canvas.

Lynn Donoghue. June, 1991. Oil on canvas, Overall: 156 × 308 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario. © Estate of Lynn Donoghue.

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Owl by Travis Shilling. Oil on canvas.

Travis Shilling. Owl, 2019. Oil on canvas, 121.9 × 152.4 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario. Purchase, with funds by exchange from the J.S. McLean Collection, by Canada Packers Inc., 2020. © Travis Shilling, Courtesy Ingram Gallery. 2020/100

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The Flow Between Hard Places by Caroline Monnet. Cculpture made of ductal concrete.

Caroline Monnet. The Flow Between Hard Places, 2019. Ductal concrete, 243.8 × 121.9 × 61 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario. Purchase, with funds by exchange from a gift of Mrs. Jules Loeb, donated by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, 2021. © Caroline Monnet 2020/138

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Alleluia by K.M. Graham. Acrylic painting on canvas.

K.M. Graham. Alleluia, 1968. Acrylic on canvas, 199.4 x 158.1 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario. Gift of Sam and Ayala Zacks, 1970. © Art Gallery of Ontario 70/231

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Orange by Joanne Tod. Oil on canvas.

Joanne Tod. Orange, 1991. Oil on canvas, 213.5 x 152.5 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario. Gift of Alison and Alan Schwartz in loving memory of Tamara Goldman, 1995. © Joanne Tod 95/392

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Little Orange Painting II by Gershon Iskowitz. Oil on canvas.

Gershon Iskowitz. Little Orange Painting II, 1974. Oil on canvas, 177.8 x 165.1 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario. Gift of Beverly and Boris Zerafa, 1975. © Art Gallery of Ontario. 75/60

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Torn Heart by Natalka Husar. Oil on linen.

Natalka Husar. Torn Heart, 1994. Oil on linen, Unstretched: 224 × 137 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario. Gift of Walter Silecky M.D., Yaroslava Iwasykiw and children Markian Silecky and Arianna Silecky, in memory of my father and our grandfather Myroslaw Morris Iwasykiw, 2019. © Natalka Husar. 2021/76

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And There Was Light by Rita Letendre. Oil on canvas.

Rita Letendre. And There Was Light, 1999. Oil on canvas, 170.2 × 271.8 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario. Gift of the Artist, 2017. © Estate of Rita Letendre. 2017/241

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