The MacLaren Art Centre is the regional public art gallery serving the residents of Barrie, Simcoe County and surrounding area. Our mission is to engage and enrich the immediate and larger community by providing innovative and relevant contemporary visual arts programming. We believe in the transformative power of the arts and their capacity to enrich understanding, empathy and creativity. As an art museum, the MacLaren is engaged with the collection, conservation, presentation, documentation, promotion and appreciation of contemporary Canadian visual art for the benefit, enrichment and enjoyment of public audiences. The Gallery has a Permanent Collection of artworks held in trust for the public and presents a year-round programme of innovative exhibitions, unique experiential art education activities and special events. Education provides the unifying link that activates our collections and exhibitions, and fosters an understanding and appreciation of the visual arts.
The MacLaren’s artistic vision derives from its position as a regional public art gallery. Our collection and exhibition programmes highlight work by artists in this region, contextualized with work by national and international artists and issues of interest to our community. We strive to ensure the highest standards of care in the presentation, conservation and documentation of artworks; to produce quality publications and interpretive activities to support our exhibitions and collections; to foster the professional development of visual artists; and to develop a knowledgeable, supportive and engaged audience. While the MacLaren is evolving as a model regional visual art centre, it is simultaneously positioned to become a public art gallery of national and international significance. As such, our artistic vision is to provide a culturally rich and dynamic environment with programmes that meaningfully engage our community while advancing contemporary art practices in Canada and discourses on contemporary art history.
The MacLaren is envisioned as a place that embraces every age, every ability and every interest. Exhibitions, public art projects, educational programmes, the Permanent Collection, community arts programmes and even fundraising initiatives offer various entryways for audiences—from the novice to the committed gallery visitor, from children to arts professionals, from the business community to social service agencies. Opportunities are created for every visitor to find some aspect of their own experience reflected back to them in our programming. By adopting a holistic approach to visual arts programming, we hope to engage as broad an audience as possible, while fostering a cumulative, meaningful experience with the visual arts. As a cultural and architectural landmark in downtown Barrie and a cornerstone of culture for the city, the MacLaren works in partnership with the City of Barrie and community organizations to foster a prosperous, creative economy and a vibrant, liveable city, developing programmes that support downtown revitalization and the master plan for culture.