Walk or drive around Nanaimo and you won’t fail to notice the amount of public art on display. Creativity, artistry and expression are embraced here for brightening spaces, adding interest and reflecting our community spirit.

Take the time to stop and admire these one-of-a-kind pieces of art as you explore the city. 

As well as the 6 must-see murals listed below, many other examples of creative large-scale art can be found on external walls and inside public buildings. Even our public washrooms get the artistic treatment in Nanaimo – stop by any public park to admire the locally themed murals that brighten these spaces.

For a taste of the variety of murals that can be seen around the city, start with this self-guided tour that starts downtown and ends at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, in the Stadium District.

Bookshelf – Nanaimo Harbourfront Library, external wall, Diana Krall Plaza

This mural, painted in 2023 by local artists Lys Glasford and Lauren Semple (Humanity in Art), was born from a concept dreamed up by library staff. The 13 book designs represent different genres and the mural is designed to encourage community interaction with bright colours.

Captain Alejandro Malaspina sketching the Galleries of Gabriola 1789-94 – located in the Piper’s Lagoon lobby of the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

This mural was originally painted in 1938 by well-known Nanaimo artist E.J. Hughes as part of a series commissioned for the Malaspina Hotel (formerly at 38 Front Street).

The mural was rediscovered in 1996 when the hotel was being demolished and after 15 months of restoration was put on public display in the VICC.

Logging – Side of the Colville Building, Albert Street at Victoria Crescent.

This mural was painted in 1985 by Paul Marcano to pay homage to the logging industry in the area during the early 20th century. The mural is based on a photograph that pictures Nanaimo forestry workers preparing to transport felled trees by train.

Operation Genesis: The Final Commission – 30 Front Street

This 1997 mural by Jeff King depicts the HMCS Saskatchewan in her final resting place as an artificial reef off Snake Island, close to Departure Bay.
HMCS Saskatchewan is the first of three decommissioned vessels sunk to create reefs in the waters around Nanaimo and is a popular scuba diving site.

Island Storm – Comox Road at Milton Street

This mural by Nanaimo-based artist Dan Richet runs along the old E&N Railway track adjacent to Comox Road. The mural depicts a stormy West Coast ocean scene with big waves, boats and deep sea creatures.

From Dark to Light – Nanaimo Aquatic Centre (Interior lobby)

This 2023 mural was co-designed and painted by Humanity in Art from an idea by local non-profit Risebridge’s summer youth program participants. The mural depicts a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly and was designed in light of the BCHR Commissioners report on the rise of hate crime during the pandemic. 

Information about more murals and other pieces of public art can be found on the City of Nanaimo website.



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