How to Have an Intimate Art Experience This Summer

Getting up close and person with art in YDH

Art is meant to be experienced, and as self-proclaimed art lovers, we think the best way to immerse yourself in art is to get up close and personal. Lucky for us, York Durham Headwaters (YDH) has lots of opportunities to get intimate with the local art scene.

See it.

YDH galleries and museums carry the same quality and variety of works as you’ll find in the city; the difference lies in the stories they tell. The works our galleries exhibit are deeply inspired by their surroundings and evoke the realities of making a life in small town and rural Canada.

Where can you find intimate curated art experiences in YDH?

McMichael Canadian Art Collection

Discover Canadian artwork ranging from Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven and indigenous artists to contemporary graffiti art, and more. Be sure to check out the new audio guided tour as you explore the gallery’s beautiful grounds and winding outdoor trails.

McMichael Gallery

Museum of Dufferin

The hospitable museum is all about local history and art. Its main exhibition celebrates the grit of people who have contributed to the community. Be sure to check out the Temperance and Temptation exhibit for an exposé on Dufferin County’s secret history of making moonshine during Prohibition!

Dufferin County Museum

Station Gallery

Housed in a transformed railway station, this non-profit public art gallery is free to visit. Its robust permanent collection and fresh exhibitions showcase works of Canadian artists past and present. Visitors enjoy the warm welcome and dynamic roster of events, including art talks and live music!

Station Gallery Durham

Robert McLaughlin Gallery

This engaging public museum houses five galleries of contemporary and historical exhibitions, including Canada’s largest collection of works by Painters Eleven. Architecture buffs will enjoy the gallery’s modern structure – especially the dramatic lobby with a 35-foot ceiling and generous skylights.

Robert McLaughlin Gallery Oshawa

Varley Art Gallery

At the north end of Unionville’s historic Main Street, you’ll find a public gallery with a vibrant permanent collection and revolving exhibitions. A visit to the Varley is the perfect appetizer before diving into the lively Unionville shopping and dining scene!

Georgina Arts Centre & Gallery

This artist-run gallery is small but mighty! Explore the vibrant collection of art from across Canada, including an impressive array of works by First Nations and Inuit artists. After browsing the gallery, you may be inspired to buy some brushes from the gift shop and start painting!

Family infront of Pioneer Village

Do it

Want to get your hands dirty and try something new? Fancy meeting the artist and talking about the inspiration for a piece before you hang it on your mantel? You’ll find many opportunities to interact with artists and try workshops and other hands-on activities in YDH.

Hands in clay making pot

Jump right in to your interactive art experience here:

Alton Mill Arts Centre

An artistic hub, the Alton Mill hosts 25 studio artists, galleries, a café and unique shops all within a striking heritage building. Visit artists like Mark Grice (or take one of his popular Sunday afternoon painting classes) and find out more about their art and their processes.

Painter teaching girl

Art on wall in Gallery

Black Creek Pioneer Village

Visit this 1860s-era village and try your hand at a heritage trade, learn to play popular period music or take a virtual reality tour. Bonus for families – admission is free for kids under the age of 14 from Monday to Friday in July and August (limited to four kids per paying adult or senior)!

Gallery on the Farm

An organic beef farm…with an artist-in-residence? You won’t find this in the city! Artist Eric Bowman shows his work in the gallery of the farm shop – where you’ll also find local crafts, including jewellery, woodwork, and natural health and beauty products!

A Country Path

Want to mix a little sight-seeing in with your art? Drive or cycle this self-guided tour of the rural hamlets and villages of Clarington, which blends art, food and heritage. You’ll meet a potter, a certified herbologist (pro tip: try her luxe soaps!), a miller – and more!

Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre

Visit working artist studios and chat with artists who create paintings, ceramics, sculptures, prints, jewellery, glassworks and more. This centre occupies four historic buildings in the heart of a charming village; it will delight all five senses…especially when you stop in for dinner at the pub!

Williams Mill Gallery

Meta4 Gallery

Become an artist for a day with one of this contemporary craft gallery’s many workshops. Choose from over 20 one-day workshops, including painting, metalsmithing, mosaics, sculpture…you can even carve your own wooden spoon! For extra inspiration, browse works by over 120 Ontario artists for sale within this creative and welcoming space.

Metal Hammers

C’mon and get friendly with the YDH art scene

Liven up your summer with a visit to York Durham Headwaters! Just hop in the car and before you know it, you’ll be on the threshold of a whole new set of galleries and art experiences to explore!

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