Olha & Mykola Kolankiwsky - Arts and Culture Wall of Fame
Olha and Mykola Kolankiwsky, in founding and developing the Niagara Falls Art Gallery, created
an internationally recognized culture legacy for our city. The gallery houses, among other
works, an important William Kurelek collection including the passion of Christ series and the
more recently acquired John Burtniak Niagara Collection. The Niagara Collections includes
representations of the falls and other regional landmarks. This gallery exists because of the
vision and commitment of the Kolankiwsky's, who immigrated to Canada in 1950 from France.
A journalist and a beautician, they were not wealthy art patrons; rather they were exceptional
community-minded individuals who recognized the need for a gallery in our city and dedicated
their lives to developing a world-class culture resource. In 1970 they purchased the Passion of
Christ series with plans to make it the central focus for the gallery.
They bought two acres of land and financed the building of the gallery 1970. They had a special
interest in the works of Mykola Krychevsky, a well known Ukraine-born post-impressionist
painter, and those of William Kurelek a Canadian artist known for his representation of
twentieth-century prairie life and of various ethnic groups.
In 1979, they were the driving force in setting up a charity to take over the collection and
building on their deaths, to ensure public access to important works of Canadian art. Over the
years, they worked hard to attract volunteers to help run the gallery and their enthusiasm was
infectious. They bequeathed over 700 art pieces to the Niagara Falls Art Gallery and the
permanent collection continues to grow.