Our Path Forward as an Institution is Ankosé
The National Gallery of Canada’s purpose is to nurture interconnection across time and place. When we lean into this purpose, we acknowledge this place, the natural world around us, and, importantly, we amplify the voices of the communities that we exist to serve.
June marks Indigenous History month, a period that was marked by great sadness, as we witness the discoveries of the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children in unmarked graves on the sites of former residential schools. For many decades, Elders, survivors and their families have been telling the stories of the lost children, and their testimony was recorded by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As we confront these discoveries on a nearly weekly basis, the Gallery must live into its Strategic Plan which centres Indigenous ways of Knowing and Being, and to live up to our brand promise, Ankosé – Everything is Connected – Tout est Relié. We know expectations are high, and together, we will meet them. Our thoughts are with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people across the country, and particularly with Indigenous colleagues at the Gallery.
The National Gallery of Canada is dynamic, alive and changing. Since I began my journey here, I had anticipated that we needed to look within and plan for an organizational change. Really diving in and looking at who we are as a Canadian institution wasn’t a simple challenge. This deep introspection was difficult and joyful, gentle and tough, satisfying and only a first step.
Part of the process were conversations with Algonquin Elders, during which the word Ankosé emerged – meaning “everything is connected." This quickly became our inspiration, a guide to where we want to be. Ankosé is our path forward. It is a call to action for the Gallery, and for all who walk inside our building, to recognize the limitless connections that surround us.
Everyone is connected to the art, to each other. One of the Gallery’s biggest priorities is expanding our invitation and our welcome to invite more voices and visitors. We want to foster space that enables connection in those we serve. We are evolving beyond the hard geometry of the Western lens, to an inclusive circle where we will weave diverse perspectives into our shared story. An example of how we plan to execute this new process is apparent in our exhibition Rembrandt in Amsterdam: Creativity and Competition. Black and Indigenous voices can be found throughout this major exhibition, acknowledging the slave trade and Dutch colonial project as realities that contributed significantly to the building of an economy that allowed artists like Rembrandt to thrive. This is Ankosé.
The new logo is a visual representation of the Gallery’s brand principles: Inviting, Alive, Open, Dimensional. Our animated logo is composed of ten shapes that morph from one into the other, like a kaleidoscope, symbolizing that we are no longer a static institution. We are changing, alive, dynamic. We have moved from a rectangular shape to a circle, which has been a very intentional change. It speaks to the theme of connection, and it is a shape that honours Indigenous ways of knowing and being.
Our brand is more than a logo and a new visual identity. It is a line in the sand – the beginning of a momentous transformation that will reshape the Gallery’s core. The Gallery recognizes the limitless connections that exist beyond the frame, and we invite the world to expect nothing less from us.
This transformation will take time and commitment. It won’t be easy. But I promise you, it will be worth it.
For more information, link to Rembrandt in Amsterdam: Creativity and Competition, on view until 6 September, and to our Brand Story. Share this article and subscribe to our newsletters to stay up-to-date on the latest articles, Gallery exhibitions, news and events, and to learn more about art in Canada.