The Sobey Art Foundation was established in 1981 with the mandate to carry on the work of entrepreneur and business leader, the late Frank H. Sobey, who was a dedicated collector of investment quality Canadian art. The Sobey Art Foundation continues the work begun by Frank Sobey, preserving representative examples of 19th and 20th century Canadian art.
One of the finest private collections of its kind, the Sobey Art Foundation has assembled exemplary examples from Canadian Masters such as Cornelius Krieghoff, Tom Thomson J.E.H. MacDonald and David Milne. The collection is housed in an intimate setting at Crombie House, the former home of Frank Sobey and his wife Irene in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Tours are regularly scheduled throughout the summer months and by appointment year round.
In 2002, the Sobey Art Foundation created the Sobey Art Award and, in the few short years since its introduction, it has become Canada’s preeminent award for contemporary Canadian art. It is an annual prize given to an artist under 40 who has exhibited in a public or commercial art gallery within 18 months of being nominated. A total of $100,000 in prize money is awarded annually; $50,000 to the winner and $10,000 to the other four finalists. According to Sobey Art Foundation Chair, Rob Sobey, the Award is intended “to stimulate interest, discussion and debate regarding contemporary Canadian art and to shine a spotlight on the creative minds across this country whose energies and passions are devoted to creating that art."
Since its inception, the Sobey Art Award and accompanying exhibition have been organized and administered by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. In 2016, the Sobey Art Foundation entered into a partnership with the National Gallery of Canada, which organizes and circulates the exhibition.