Director's Message

Artist Gary Evans talks about his paintings in "Farther Afield", 2016. Photo: Andre Beneteau

A Message from Carolyn

Art museums provide public spaces where people gather to experience the arts, culture and heritage. They are places where creativity flourishes and where artistic creation is valued. They foster opportunities to participate in arts and culture, and they are cultural hubs that build identity, promote social interaction and encourage positive urban experiences.

The MacLaren Art Centre is integral to the cultural, social and intellectual fabric of this community. It is a cornerstone of culture for Barrie, a central meeting place and a destination for visitors from across the province. Immediate audiences comprise residents of Barrie, Simcoe County and the surrounding area, members of the arts and academic communities, and public audiences from across the GTA and Central Ontario. As the major public art gallery in Central Ontario, the MacLaren serves a broad constituency, including artists, educators, children, school groups, youth, adults, seniors, families, tourists and special needs groups.

Each year, our capacity grows, supported by volunteerism and philanthropic giving from individuals and organizations. In 2016, we presented 32 exhibitions and 591 art activities led by 28 artists for 52,504 people, including 20,364 children and youth, supported by 258 volunteers, 481 members and 162 local businesses. Our annual cycle of activities is marked not only by our exhibitions and educational programmes but also by our fundraising events. Each season, we offer events that attract different audiences and raise essential support for the Gallery. February brings The Battle of the Bands, an enormous party that showcases the musical talents of Barrie’s financial and medical professionals. March is our Benefactor Member Art Exchange, during which our patrons can select a work of art to bring home on loan for one year. April is our elegant Black Tie Gala with superb dining and dancing. Each September we pay tribute to a community leader at our Legacy Dinner. At our October Speakeasy attendees enjoy period cocktails, jazz and poker. November brings our much anticipated art auction, which features over 150 works by regional artists.

The MacLaren is envisioned as a place that embraces every age, every ability and every interest. Exhibitions, gallery talks, art classes and workshops, the Permanent Collection and even fundraising activities provide opportunities to engage different audiences—from families to arts professionals, from the business community to social service agencies. Our facility also accommodates corporate receptions, weddings, birthday parties and other social events. Our street-side café, gift shop, framing and art rental services regularly open doors to new visitors. Located in downtown Barrie, the Gallery is open year-round, seven days a week (excluding statutory holidays) and admission is free.

We are committed to fostering the growth of arts and culture in Barrie and to building a creative future for our community. We are also committed to being accessible, to offering a warm and welcoming environment for all visitors. We believe in the transformative power of the arts and their capacity to enrich our lives—a belief shared by our many volunteers, members, patrons, partners and sponsors, who continue to make our programmes possible. We are deeply grateful for their support.


Make the MacLaren your cultural destination in Barrie. We look forward to welcoming you!


Warm regards,




Carolyn Bell Farrell

Executive Director