Permanent Collection

About the KWAG Permanent Collection

A sidelong view of painting racks with glimpses of paintings through the gaps between racksThe Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery’s Permanent Collection was established in 1957 with an initial accession of twelve drawings by eleven contemporary Canadian artists. Since that time, the Collection has grown to over 4,300 works in a variety of media including paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, photography and video. The majority of the Collection comprises works of the 20th and 21st centuries, with a small selection of historical works dating between the 17th and 19th centuries. While the Collection primarily focuses on contemporary Canadian art, it also includes work by international artists.

KWAG stewards the Collection as a living and growing body. Our Collection is an index of community, relationships and responsibilities that have changed over time. As is the case in many collections built on colonial foundations, ours has its strengths as well as areas that need to be further developed with care. Guided by our Strategic Plan and collecting mandate, we continue to shape the Collection as a resource that is more representative of the community it serves and the conversations that will shape the future.

Informed by innovative curatorial frameworks, KWAG develops a wide range of exhibitions featuring works from the Permanent Collection. These efforts provide space to highlight selections of contemporary and historical works from the Collection on an ongoing basis for daily visitors and tour groups.

You can browse our Permanent Collection records by visiting http://gallery.kwag.ca/.

If you have any questions about the Permanent Collection, please contact Jennifer Bullock, Assistant Curator and Registrar, at jbullock@kwag.on.ca.

Installation view of Articulating Legibility, displaying a single row of framed works from the Collection
Articulating Legibility: Works from the Permanent Collection. Curated by Lucy Bilson. Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, 2021-22. Photo: Robert McNair.

Community Curator Program

The Community Curator program is a unique opportunity for local artists, arts enthusiasts and Gallery volunteers to propose research projects that focus on the KWAG Permanent Collection. Working closely with KWAG staff, these projects often develop into exhibitions that reflect the personal interests and curiosities of the Community Curator. Through this exchange, new insights invigorate our Collection as a vital archive that is shaped by the community it serves. This program is also an opportunity for individuals to learn more about the process of organizing an exhibition, from finalizing a list of work and developing original writing to specific considerations for the installation of work.

As of 2022, we have facilitated thirteen Community Curator exhibitions.

If you are interested in proposing a project for the Community Curator program, please forward a statement describing your proposal, and a statement about your own practice, field of interest, and/or personal relationship to art, to Darryn Doull, Curator, at ddoull@kwag.on.ca.