Top 5 Places to Shop for First Nations Art in Vancouver

Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, one of the 5 Best Places to Shop for First Nations Art. Photo: Inuit Gallery of Vancouver

From the Inukshuk that became the symbol of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics to the totems, eagles, and circular killer whales that appear everywhere from the Vancouver International Airport to the Vancouver Convention Centre, First Nations art holds an important place in our cultural aesthetic.

In both its traditional and contemporary modes, First Nations art—sculpture, graphics, bentwood boxes, jewelry—is an expression of the history and geography of our region. For anyone looking for a unique gift—something you won’t find anywhere else in the world—you need look no further than Vancouver’s amazing First Nations galleries and museums.

Top 5 Place to Shop for First Nations Art in Vancouver

1. Coastal Peoples Fine Art Galleries – Yaletown & Gastown
Arguably Vancouver’s most famous spot for First Nations art shopping and a must-see for any visitor to Vancouver (even if you’re not in the market to buy), the two Coastal People Fine Art Galleries specialize in museum-quality, handcrafted artwork by aboriginal artists from B.C.’s Northwest Coast. Artworks include basketry, sculpture, masks, glasswork, jewelry, and graphic prints.

2. Hill’s Native Art – Gastown
North America’s largest Northwest Coast Native Art Gallery, Hill’s three-story flagship store in historic Gastown is another must-visit for First Nations art shopping. At Hill’s, you’ll find everything from original and limited prints, carvings, masks, and totem poles to bentwood boxes, clothing, rattles, and drums.

3. Inuit Gallery of Vancouver – Gastown
Though, as the name implies, this gallery primarily focuses on Inuit art, it also showcases a substantial amount of Northwest Coast First Nations art, particularly sculpture and graphics. Their website has a fabulous “gift section,” too, with elegant pieces in a range of prices, from $45 – $250.

4. Spirits of the North & Eagle Spirit Gallery – Granville Island
Granville Island is a great spot for First Nations art shopping because its home to several shops and galleries, including the museum-quality collections at Eagle Spirit Gallery and the Spirits of the North, which showcases a number of young, up-and-coming artists.

5. MOA – UBC’s Museum of Anthropology – UBC
Strictly speaking, the gift shop at MOA can’t compare in scale and volume with the galleries on this list, but since the museum itself is a must for anyone interested in First Nations art—MOA is world-renowned for its collections of First Nations and Coast Salish peoples’ arts, sculptures, and historic works, including magnificent large-scale sculptures and totems—I had to include it. Spend the day at MOA and you’ll really whet your appetite for First Nations art!

Love First Nations art? Think I left a great place to shop off the list? Please share in the comments!

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16 Responses to Top 5 Places to Shop for First Nations Art in Vancouver

  1. Sherri

    I was walking by Robson Square yesterday and there was a display of masks for sale by the First Nations artist. He needed money and was selling them for ridiculously cheap prices. Cash of course.

    • maureen

      do you know anyone wanting to buy a beautiful hummingbird drum on elk skin with hummingbird case? I too need money & am in vancouver for medical reasons. Thx.

  2. mary a.

    Wickaninnish Gallery in Granville Island. The owner is First Nations and buys her pieces ethically and responsibly. The artists get paid up front if she decides to take their work without haggling the value of their work down.

    There’s some beautiful silver/gold jewelry, beadwork, carving, and prints.

    Their ethical way of running a business is what keeps me going back year after year.

    • Thanks Mary! That’s a great tip. Obviously Granville Island is mini-mecca of First Nations art.

    • maureen

      where is the store located-not familiar with granville island-i have a hummingbird drum that i must sell. thx

  3. I have been to the eagle spirit gallery and the owner had ordered a carving from me worth 4000. I had gone to work right away and carved what he had asked for. I returned a week later to find out he did not want it and did not order it…? He never said such a thing.

    I didnt go back for a cpl years and thought I would give it a shot. My wife and childern were rudly approched and were told…to tell me to leave the gallery.
    I was inside talking and showing some of the art I had with me to an employee. She was outside with kids walking looking at the rugs across the way. He came out his side door to his office and told my wife more like yelled to get me out of there I was bothering and dusturbing his sales no one wanted to talk or be bothered.

    Alot of pacients, respect, and great manners it took to walk away and not respond the way were were treated. I will never bring my art to be shown or sold at that gallery ever again. I can imiagen how other artist must feel walking away from the eagle spirit gallery in grandville island…Its bad enough to sell at half price and then to be treated less then…we are the ones that give them that business and sales money in their pocket. Should be treated with respect.

    • Fred Anderson

      I suppose they don’t care who is making their living for them and what it takes to make these pieces I was in two Gallery’s in Gastown where I watched staff treat first nations badly and I have never returned to the Gallery’s since… I would rather if people want great art , go to the artist and get to know them and you’ll see they carry a powerful message with each piece that a Gallery can’t possibly interpret and share in the same way.. Its a experience that will change the direction of life forever, Encouragement is spiritual fuel my brother and I encourage you to keep moving forward and look after family and once you get know you won’t need the Gallery’s. They forget who’s land they plant their feet on….

      • Teddy baker

        Yeah, that’s true some of the gallery’s are like that miss treat artists I have seen it myself.if you are interested in hand carved work,you have my email!

  4. sheila

    Why do you not list the Native Art Shops on the Indian Reservations

  5. The Ruby Creek Art Gallery out by Hope is owned by the Skawahlook First Nation. They also purchase all of their art up front and do their best to support local First Nations artists.

    While Hope is a bit of a drive from Vancouver, they have a fantastic website, with full eCommerce capabilities, and offer quick shipping and may even be able to deliver between Hope and Horseshoe Bay for free.

    Check them out for your #NativeArt needs on Twitter and IG @RubyCreekArt

  6. Diane Carstens

    Very helpful list and comments – thank you. But missing two, and my favorite, Doug Reynolds Gallery on Granville Street.

    Also Lattimer Gallery which is so close to Granville Island it makes sense to stop in there too!

  7. Janice Gonsalves

    A favorite gallery of mine is Spirit Wrestler on Water Street in Gas Town. Museum quality art, very friendly and knowlegeable staff. I’ve been a customer for years and I haven’t detected even a whiff of “attitude”. Same goes for Coastal Peoples, Douglas Reynolds, & Lattimer.

  8. Alana

    As a First Nations’s person, I’m not fan of the places listed here. I’ve been in numerous times and find them very rude and am not interested in supporting the ridiculous markup.

    I usually buy straight from the artist or the Aborignal Friendship Centre’s http://www.cedarrootgallery.com or Pow Wow’s or other local cultural events.

    There is usually a really beautiful story behind each piece and it would not feel right simply hanidng off money.

  9. Lynnea

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Khot-La-Cha-Art-Gallery-Gift-Shop
    A great Aboriginal and family owned Art gallery and Gift Shop on the Capilano Reserve! Supports all Nations and art from all over and have been around since 1969. Hidden gem of North Vancouver.

  10. klarantina

    I received 5 Native art prints from my tenant and I would like to sell them. Any one has any idea where can I do that? thank you for your help.

  11. ron gagnon

    I have just recently taken up my passion . Met some master carvers ,artists all carving on the street.They are unbieveable souls.Thier gift is truly unmesurable.Thank you for your4 open arms and warm hearts.Truly an amazing expierence So much love.Thank you.Downtown Van.