Art Around Campus: Helen Beals

Not many people are aware that works from the Acadia University Art Gallery’s collection are on display all around campus. The purpose of the blog theme Art Around Campus is to create awareness of such art and to share interesting and unknown information about the artists. This is the second installment of the newest blog theme and highlights a 1919 Acadia University Alumni: Helen Dorothy Beals.

Beals was born in Canso, Nova Scotia in 1989. She graduated from Acadia University in 1919 with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, and in the following year studied for a certificate in Library Science at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. Upon completion of this program, she worked as a librarian at the Epicostal Theological School in Cambridge, Mass – five years later (1926), Beals returned to Wolfville Nova Scotia where she worked as an Acadia librarian for 18 years. In 1945, she was appointed head of the Department of Art at Acadia and held this position until her retirement in 1963 (2005) – as a professor, Beals shared her excitement about art and the creative process and introduced her students to the importance of intuition when working as an artist. She was a founding member of the Maritime Art Association (1935), was involved in the publication “Maritime Art Magazine” (1940), and was a member of the Nova Scotia Society of Artists.

Helen Beals died on April 17th, 1991. Beals never married or had a family of her own, however, she inspired many students, artists and friends who were determined to let her legacy live on (Nd.). Over the years, many of her works have been donated to The Acadia University Art Gallery, several of which are on display on the third level of the Vaughan Memorial Library in the Beveridge Arts Centre.

Beals was a very talented artist and worked in watercolor, oil and acrylic paint as well as pottery (2013). When Beals wasn’t painting flowers and surroundings in her home, she was out and about in her local area or travelling across the country and/or oceans documenting her surroundings in great detail and accuracy. The following work, “Antwerp Belgium” is on display in the library:

Heleb Beals belgium .jpg

I encourage you to visit the campus library to view this wonderful work and let us know what you think! If you have any comments about the blog post or the work of Helen Beals, join the conversation below!



Alexandra (Collections and Outreach Assistant, summer 2017)


Works Cited:

Acadia University Art Gallery Artist Files

“Artist Database: Beals, Helen D.” Canadian Women Artists History Initiative. May 24th, 2013. Retrieved July 16th, 2017.

Beals, Donald W. “Beals of Distinction: Helen Dorothy Beals”. Beals Genealogy. 2005. Retrieved July 16th, 2017.




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