The creative scene in the Ottawa region extends beyond the National Gallery of Canada, the Ottawa Art Gallery and official public art. Around every corner, cultural events attract artists from near and far, urban art is on display, and unique local businesses inspire the community. Discover a few highlights from our long list of unofficial art museums that show off Ottawa’s creative side!
House of PainT – The Unofficial Museum of Grassroots
Hip hop dancers, graffiti artists and DJs from near and far gather in Ottawa to share their best work during the House of PainT festival each summer. This vibrant event features hip hop performances, dance battles, live art demos and a collaborative graffiti under the Dunbar Bridge just south of downtown.
Highjinx – The Unofficial Museum of Second-Hand Treasures
This eclectic charity store in Centretown is filled to the ceiling with cool antiques, vintage treasures and funky décor—as well as compassion and care. When you shop at Highjinx, you help this social enterprise support the community directly. The owners run a food pantry, kitchen, furniture bank and helpful services for those in need.
Black Squirrel Books - The Unofficial Museum of Stories
Be prepared for a double dose of literature and caffeine at Black Squirrel Books. Meet a friend for a locally roasted coffee and a snack at the on-site coffee shop, or browse for that elusive used book or new popular bestseller you’ve been looking for (there’s more downstairs!). This large but cozy community hub in Old Ottawa South also hosts special creative events.
613flea – The Unofficial Museum of Vintage Finds
Eclectic finds, handmade goods, antiques, vintage apparel, great food and one-of-a-kind art are just some of the treasures you’ll find at the 613flea marketplace. The ever-changing list of vendors make this free event a joy to visit each month. Plus, the venue is an architectural piece of art: the historic Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne in the Glebe neighbourhood.
Alley Cats – The Unofficial Museum of Meow
Urban art comes in all shapes and sizes—and species! What cat-lover wouldn’t want to stumble across 14 life-sized bronze statues of cats? That’s exactly what’s on display in and around the Murray Street parking garage in the historic ByWard Market area. Before or after a great meal at one of the many nearby restaurants, see if you can find all of the Alley Cat sculptures—from playing kittens to sleepy cats.