Our Origins


Maltwood's study gallery

Our Origins

Formerly the Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery, University of Victoria Legacy Art Galleries was renamed in recent years to reflect the fact that its existence is a result of multiple legacies.

While the collection continues to grow through the generosity of more recent donors, at its foundations are three main collections and in particular two major bequests which have enabled UVic to establish its gallery program that serves both the University’s academic goals and the broader community:

Victoria College Art Collection and Early UVIC commissions
Prior to UVic becoming a university, in its form as Victoria College, an art collection was amassed thanks to the far-sighted vision of administrators and faculty. During the 1950s and early 60s they purchased many significant works by BC artists. This collection was further developed by commissions of public art to enhance the new buildings being constructed on the fledgling Gordon Head Campus.

John and Katharine Maltwood Bequest
Katharine Maltwood was a well-known London sculptor who had amassed a significant art collection by the time she and her husband John retired to Victoria in the late 1930s. In 1938, a decade before Victoria had any public art gallery, John and Katharine Maltwood attempted to gift their collection and found a municipal gallery. When the city declined their offer, the Maltwoods turned their vision for a gallery toward the academic realm. Following their deaths their Royal Oak house and significant fine and decorative art collection was received by UVic in 1964. This broad ranging collection has at its core a fabulous decorative arts with internationally renowned examples from the Arts and Crafts period as well as significant examples of Pacific Northwest artists such as Emily Carr and W.P. Weston. An endowment coming out of their bequest continues to fund staff and programs for the galleries. For more information visit our exhibition site and catalogue.

Michael Williams Bequest
Prominent businessman, art collector and dedicated visionary for a vibrant downtown Victoria, Michael Williams left his estate to UVic. This included a remarkable art collection, financial assets, properties and downtown businesses including Swans Hotel and Pub. The intention was to have the revenue from these properties fund various undertakings to better improve links between the city and campus and to share his collection with students and the public through a downtown art gallery.

One of Williams’ properties has now been converted in the Legacy Art Gallery, the main hub of the University’s gallery activity which, through funds from the estate offers free admission and support for its exhibitions, programs and events. Another benefit of his gift is the development of the William Legacy Chair in Modern and Contemporary Arts of the Pacific Northwest. The Chair’s research brief encompasses community-based research, collections research, and research about the arts of the Pacific Northwest region and shares a special relationship with Legacy Art Galleries and its Pacific Northwest collections.

Visit the William Legacy Chair website

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