The AEAC’s mandate, as defined in our Strategic Plan, is to serve the students, faculty and staff of Queen’s University as a teaching/learning resource, and the communities of the City of Kingston and the region as a cultural locus, through collecting, research, interpretation and exhibition of works of art, in the belief that contact with original works of art contributes to understanding our world, ourselves and others.
The seeds of the present Art Centre were sown in 1926, with the formation of the Kingston Art and Music Club, of which Agnes Etherington (1880-1954) was a driving force. She continued to work for the arts in Kingston throughout her life and in her final years, drew up plans to bequeath her house, an elegant Neo-Georgian mansion, to Queen’s University for use as a university and community art gallery. The Agnes Etherington Art Centre opened to the public in 1957, with respected artist André Biéler as founding director.
To meet the needs of the gallery’s expanding functions, extensions to the building were added in 1962, 1975 and 1978. Most recently, in 2000, an $8M capital campaign project created eight new exhibition spaces totalling 725m2, generous vault storage, a public programs studio, a multi-purpose Atrium, Shop and Art Rental & Sales spaces, and the restored Etherington House, for a total of 1720m2. This first-rate infrastructure supports a program of some 15 exhibitions annually, and a spectrum of artists’ talks and performances, public lectures, symposia, workshops, and school and family programs.