History of OSA


The Ottawa School of Art (OSA) invites the community to help us celebrate the 135th anniversary of visual arts education and creative expression in the Ottawa region.


Art is in your mind, what you think, and all that is special. Art lets people express themselves.” – Sam (age 11) Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre – Ottawa School of Art Outreach Program student


Programs and enrollment numbers have changed at the school and evolved over the years from offering leatherwork and iron gate design in the 1880’s to a handful of students to offerings that include a wide range of media including ceramics, printmaking, photography, computer graphics and design studied by thousands of students. The school continues to adapt to the changes and developments in the art world as well as to new media and technologies that artists are using for their creations. As OSA enters its 135th year, we are taking this opportunity to look to the future, with partners who share our vision and passion for sparking the imagination of artists of all ages. Our goal as a not-for-profit organization is to continue to provide quality arts education to as many people in the greater community as possible. Our programs help people enrich their lives through a greater understanding and appreciation of the arts as well as increasing their skills and abilities in all areas. Graduates of the school include artists Michèle Provost, David Houlton and John Jarrett among many others. www.artottawa.ca/diploma-certificate/fine-arts-diploma-program/osa-alumni/graduates-of-the-osa-fad-program


“This growth in media and programs offered at OSA as well as student numbers indicates the important role the school plays in the region. Community support and patronage has also grown in recognition of the talent that OSA has nurtured and we are very grateful for that. Ottawa has a wonderful vibrant arts community as proven by the turnout at the recent Nuit Blanche event where OSA was a hub of activity. ” says Jeff Stellick, Executive Director of the Ottawa School of Art.”


The school has grown considerably since it first opened in April of 1880 with 18 students enrolled. The OSA operates two important public galleries that features work by local, national and international contemporary artists. In 2012-13, OSA had 3,760 registrations in over a dozen different disciplines at both campuses. The school also served 252 participants through its Outreach Program, which was run in partnership with 3 community houses, the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre and 2 social service agencies (this program has served 3,485 children, youth and adults in the past 11 years). The school offers evenings drawing, painting and other art format classes to adults and youth and March break and summer camps for children ages 6 to 15 https://artottawa.ca/register-for-a-class/.


In 1879 by a group of prominent local citizens, who felt the need for an art institution in the new capital, under the patronage of the Governor General, the Marquis of Lorne, and his wife, the Princess Louise (Daughter of Queen Victoria), founded the Ottawa Art Association. The Association was determined to open as a school of art and design in the capital and it opened the Ottawa Art School, as it was then called. Over the next 70 years there were many changes and transitions to the school and its community, but the school survived and emerged from the war years and became the Ottawa Municipal Art Centre in the early 1950’s. The school moved to several locations in the following years and in 1976 the OSA was reorganized under its present name. In 1983 it moved again and settled into its present location in the By Ward Market, 35 George Street. In 2009 the school expanded with a second campus added in the Shenkman Arts Centre in Orleans.


Come visit the gallery as the celebration this year starts off with an exhibition by Aganetha Dyck at the downtown Gallery (35 George Street) and an exhibition by Peter Krausz at the Orleans gallery (245 Centrum Boul.) www.artottawa.ca/galleries in March, and in April/May an exhibition by Ed Pien as well as our 5th International Miniprint exhibition will help to launch our 135th Anniversary Event. For more info about upcoming events please visit www.artottawa.ca.

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