The UBC Fine Arts Gallery was established in 1948 and located in the basement of Main Library on the University campus. For much of its early history, the Fine Arts Gallery was the only gallery in the Vancouver region to focus exclusively on contemporary art. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Gallery achieved a national profile with exhibitions that explored what is now known as cultural studies and by presenting innovative work by artists who would establish Vancouver as an international centre. The Gallery did not have a permanent collection until 1994, when it began to house and administer the University Art Collection as well as maintain and develop UBC’s Outdoor Art Collection.
On June 14, 1995, the Fine Arts Gallery was rededicated the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery and opened its new premises at 1825 Main Mall. The building, designed by Peter Cardew Architects, was made possible by the generous support of Morris and Helen Belkin, the Government of British Columbia through the World of Opportunity Campaign and the University of British Columbia.
The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery is mandated to promote understanding and discussion of contemporary art and contemporary issues in art history, criticism and curating. Our mandate is realized through research, exhibitions, acquisitions, publishing, education and public and academic programs in the field of contemporary art with a focus on our region within a national and international context.
As a university art gallery, the Belkin Art Gallery is committed to a research mandate, an international perspective and to the goal of fostering a civil society.
The Belkin seeks to explore the ways in which the practice of contemporary art is in itself a form of research that produces knowledge. Through our exhibitions, publications, events and programs, we raise awareness and encourage debate in the field of contemporary art. Through our collections, the Belkin contributes to an understanding of the Canadian avant-garde of the 1960s and 1970s, the international network developed at that time and its role in the art of today. Across all media and disciplines we emphasize practices and projects that challenge the status quo, support emerging artists and practices and present artist-initiated projects.
The Belkin’s Collection contains more than 4,500 artworks, making it one of the largest public art collections in the province. The Gallery also holds over 20,000 archival items relating to the post-war history of art in Vancouver and the avant-garde narratives of the 1960s to 1970s including: the Peter Day Concrete Poetry Collection; the Kenneth Coutts-Smith Archive; the Morris/Trasov Archives (Image Bank); and the archives of Eric Metcalfe and Kate Craig.
The curatorial direction of the Belkin’s exhibition program is devoted to the artistic work and ideas of our time with a strong consideration for the local context. The Belkin is a research-based institution and does not program exhibitions through unsolicited submissions. You are welcome to send an artist’s CV and package (CD/DVD/website) introducing or updating us on your work that will be reviewed on an annual basis. Packages will not be returned.