Collecting practices–personal or institutional–are characterized by a pursuit of knowledge and a genuine love for objects. Human curiosity leads one to find out everything about those objects, their past and shared significance to oneself and to one’s community. This exhibition has come together from an admiration for and curiosity about objects, and a desire to explore their potential as bearers of meaning, memories and knowledge.
Museum collections originate in the cabinets of curiosities or Wunderkammer of the sixteenth century. Collectors gathered works of art, historical rarities, scientific specimens and many other objects relating to their interests and placed them carefully within display cabinets so that their treasures might be preserved and shared with guests. In modern practice, long-term care and public access are defining pillars of museum collections. Over time, objects accrue different meanings and identities through the interactions of curators and viewers, and through their inclusion in changing exhibitions.
These objects often carry with them a life of their own. Wenzel Hollar’s engraving Lady with Ribbon Round Her Waist stands out as one of the oldest works in the Permanent Collection, dating back to the seventeenth century. Retaining this image demonstrates our efforts to preserve, document, and remember the past. Other works in the exhibition recall Kitchener’s history with a glimpse of the city during the First World War, or through an industrial artefact, or evoke a memory through an old calendar. The selected works reflect upon the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery’s history of collecting, object histories, and parallel efforts of memory undertaken by contemporary artists.
– Beatriz Asfora
This exhibition is part of an ongoing series of Community Curator projects that activate our Collection through fresh perspectives. Beatriz Asfora recently completed a Master of Arts in Art History at Western University after earning a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Waterloo.
Maggie Groat (based in St. Catharines, ON), Alternative Guide to SET, 2017, Collage, 48.5cm x 63cm. Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery Collection. Gift of the Artist, 2017. © Maggie Groat. Photo: Robert McNair.