The BMO Financial Group is donating $500,000 to The NEXT Gallery project at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Gallery director Jon Tupper said the gift will help the gallery "tell the stories of our great B.C. and Canadian artists for years to come."

BMO Financial Group regional director James Kitamura said the donation is part of the bank's tradition of supporting the arts.

“Art enriches our lives, fostering inspiration, education and connection and BMO has proudly supported Canada’s arts and culture community throughout our 200-year history,” Kitamura said.

Donations to the NEXT Gallery project now exceed $9 million in private and corporate support. The province committed $6 million in 2018 towards the art gallery's goal of raising $30 million for the expansion.

In 2012, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria announced it was seeking architects who could renovate and prepare a design that would complement the unique location of the building in the Rockland neighbourhood.

The rezoning was approved in 2015 and the gallery released updated site drawings in 2019.

Tupper said the BMO donation will fund a dedicated BMO Gallery for Canadian and British Columbia Art space, including works by Emily Carr and the Group of Seven.

"We have 20,000 works of art in the gallery and many of those works of art actually would come from British Columbia and Canada," Tupper said.

"This is going to give us an opportunity to show more of those treasures that are now hidden away in our basement, in our vault. “