37 Mulcaster Street, Barrie
L4M 3M2
Phone: 705-721-9696
Fax: 705-735-6935

MacLaren Art Centre

The MacLarenArtCentre is Simcoe County’s regional public art gallery. Located in downtown Barrie, Ontario, the MacLaren is housed in a 24,000 square-foot award-winning building that combines a renovated 1917 Carnegie library and a contemporary addition. The complex includes multiple galleries, visible storage, an education centre, a sculpture courtyard, as well as the Radio Café, Gallery Shop and Framing services. The MacLaren presents a year-round programme of local, regional, national and international exhibitions of contemporary art, complemented by occasional exhibitions of historical and modern art and an extensive public education programme. The MacLaren houses a permanent collection, including a unique archive of vintage Soviet press photographs.

Permanent Collection

The Spirit Catcher by Ron Baird, located at Kempenfelt Bay was the Centre's first piece donated to the permanent collection. We have over 26,000 works in the permanent collection, including Rodin bronzes, Norval Morrisseau prints and over 23,000 photographs from the Russian SovFoto Agency.


Gordon Monahan: A Very Large Vinyl LP Constructed in Acoustic Space and The Chimney Effect
Gallery 3 and Harris Hall
February 26 to May 29, 2011
Public reception Thursday, March 10, 7 to 9 pm
Café Culture: Thursday, April 7 at 7 pm - $5, free for members and students

The brilliant, irrepressible musician, composer and artist Gordon Monahan divides his creative life between Meaford, Ontario and Berlin, Germany. Drawing on the parallel legacies of avant-garde music and visual art, such as “furniture music” composed by Erik Satie (1917–1923) to the radical postulations of silence, noise and random sounds as music by John Cage in the 1950s, Monahan generates compelling acoustic events from commonplace articles and everyday situations. At the MacLaren, Monahan creates two room-scaled sound installations. A Very Large Vinyl LP … (2007) places the gallery visitor in the midst of an apparently rotating sound as if sitting in the centre of a giant phonograph turntable. The Chimney Effect (2011), a brand new work, harnesses the up- and downdrafts of MacLaren fireplace into an Aeolian harp.
This pair of installations are part of a multi-venue, traveling retrospective entitled Gordon Monahan: Seeing Sound: Sound Art, Performance and Music, 1978-2011. Other locations of this, the inaugural phase of the exhibition, will be on view during Spring 2011 at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, The Doris McCarthy Gallery, Scarborough and the Blackwood Gallery, Mississauga.

Juliana Pivato: Trading Surfaces
Curator: Ben Portis
Laking Gallery 3
March 5 to June 5, 2011
Public reception Thursday, March 10, 7 to 9 pm
CafĂ© Culture: Thursday, April 7 at 7 pm - $5, free f...+ [ Read all ]

Previous Exhibitions

Celebrating Women Artists in the Permanent Collection
Aganetha Dyck, Janet Jones, Margaret Priest and Frances Thomas
March 8, 2011 - April 16, 2011
Reception: Spring 2011 Receptions
Curator: Sarah Chate
Location: Joan Lehman Gallery and Lower Level Foyer

Opening in conjunction with International Women’s Day, the MacLaren is pleased to present selected works from the Permanent Collection by Canadian women artists including Aganetha Dyck, Janet Jones, Margaret Priest and Frances Thomas, highlighting recent acquisitions by Thomas and Jones.

Forthcoming exhibitions

Figure in Place
Frederick Hagan
June 4, 2011 - September 11, 2011
Reception: June 16, 2011
Curator: Ben Portis
Location: Gallery 3

Frederick Hagan (1918–2003) who was born and raised in Toronto and lived in Newmarket for sixty years, held a lifelong fondness for the Near North and Muskoka regions, people and histories. And so he bestowed to Barrie one of his most considered gifts: Skeleton Shore Timbers (1966), God Saving Patterns (1974–75) and Artist’s Masks (1991), along with sheaves of figural and compositional studies for each of these definitive paintings. Figure in Place, which brings these works together for the first time, illuminates Hagan’s creative process, demonstrating how he sensitively set the human condition, at once physical and psychological, in the picture.

Figure in Place is organized by the MacLarenArtCentre in conjunction with Figuring Out the Landscape: The influence of “the land” in the paintings of Frederick Hagan, curated by Ted Fullerton, on view at the Campus Gallery at Georgian College from September 13 to October 9, 2011. The exhibitions are accompanied by a collaborative publication with essays by eminent Canadian art historian Dennis Reid and the curators.

Figure Out of Place
David Craven, Will Gorlitz, Rae Johnson, Tony Scherman, David Urban, Shirley Wiitasalo and Marlene Hilton Moore
June 11, 2011 - September 4, 2011
Reception: June 16, 2011
Curator: Ben Portis
Location: Janice Laking Gallery

Figure out of Place shows figuration’s anxious resurgence in the 1980s. Ten powerful artworks from the MacLaren’s Permanent Collection—canvases by David Craven, Will Gorlitz, Rae Johnson, Tony Scherma...+ [ Read all ]


Suggested admission is $5.

Opening hours

Weekdays 10:00am to 5:00pm
Saturday 10:00am to 4:00pm
Sunday Noon to 4:00pm

Getting there

90km north of Toronto on Highway 400m take the Dunlop Street East exit and continue through downtown Barrie to Mulcaster Street.


We have a full service licensed Cafe with a private courtyard as well as a Gallery Shop.Fully wheelchair accessible including the washrooms. Tours and guides can be organized in advance. Paid parking is close by.

Museum internal and external photos (5)

Click on the images to enlarge

News and events

MacLaren Legacy Dinner
September 29, 2011
Location: MacLaren Art Centre Carnegie Room
Festival: Carnegie Days Festival
Fees: $175

In 2011 the MacLaren celebrates the ten-year anniversary of our award-winning gallery building. Join us for a stimulating evening featuring the building’s architect, Dr. Siamak Hariri, who will share his career insights and experiences. Special tribute to community leader and philanthropist Scott Elliott.


Café Culture: Figure in and out of Place
June 23, 2011
Location: Rotary Education Centre
Fees: $5 | free for members and students

Join artist Michael Coughlin and author Borys Kowalsky for a Café Culture event featuring a gallery tour of Figure out of Place and Frederick Hagan: Figure in Place as well as a discussion of the artworks in the context of humanism and philosophy in the 21st century.



We offer a wide range of classes, art talks and curator talks scheduled throughout the year.


We are happy to organize a tour with any size group but please call in advance to request a guide.


MacLaren's VanGo is well known for its original arts based programming intended for students Grade 1 to 8. It is designed to bring artists into the school room to deliver art based experiences to the children in an accessible and educational manner. The VanGo program is now in the gallery where children can get the full experience of making art.


The MacLaren is very family friendly and offers a Family Drop-In programme every Sunday from 1:30 to 3:00pm for parents and their children. Please check our website for all the information.


Classes are scheduled throughout the year for all age groups. Please check the website for the full schedule.


We host a number of juried exhibitions that invite students to submit their art work.


Whether coming to the Centre to view the exhibitions, attend an art class, volunteer or just visit the MacLaren for lunch. There is always an event or exhibition to engage you in.


There are different types of memeberships designed for individuals, families or groups. Please visit or call to discuss which membership suits you the best.


Please call to discuss.

Venue hire

With its high ceilings, natural light and distinctive windows, the impressive Carnegie Room provides the perfect backdrop for weddings and special ceremonies, while the gallery’s attractive main floor is perfect for corporate meetings and cocktail receptions. The building is centrally located, wheelchair accessible, with ample adjacent parking. Offering friendly professional service, value and ambience, the MacLaren is Barrie’s venue of choice. Please contact us to discuss date availability.