Queen’s receives $1 million donation for arts

Alfred and Isabel Bader continue generous donations to campus

The $1 million will go towards various arts projects at Queen's.
Journal File Photo

On Sept. 10, Isabel and Alfred Bader donated $1 million to support four projects in the visual and musical arts at Queen’s.

It’s a pattern for the couple, who’ve made several notable contributions including Herstmonceux Castle, Rembrandt paintings, and the Isabel Bader Performing Arts Centre.

Out of the million, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre will receive $645,000. The money will go toward funding the Centre’s first touring exhibition in 30 years. The exhibition, Leiden, circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges, will tour across Canada at four venues starting in Kingston the fall of next year.

In addition to the touring collection, the money will fund the Isabel and Alfred Bader Lecture in European Art, which will give Queen’s access to some of the most prolific scholars in the field.

The Agnes Etherington Centre will also use the new funds increase their online presence and digitize the collection.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that [the Baders’] have really put Queen’s in a leading position,” said Jane Allen, Director of the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre. “They’ve done so very thoughtfully and knowing that is so important for students and the wider intellectual community to have the arts as part of their lives.”

The second allotment of the Bader’s donation was $200,000 directed to the Department of Art History and Art Conservation. The money will be used to purchase a digitally assisted 3-D microscope and an electromagnetic multi-based image scanner.

Dr. Patricia Smithen, an Assistant Professor in the Art Conservation program said the donation is an excellent opportunity for the program.

“It is a wonderful expression of confidence in and support for our program, as well as a keen opportunityfor us to invest in some advanced equipment that will transform our ability to do research,” Smithen said.

The third allocation of the money is directed to the music program at the Bader International Study Centre at Herstmonceux castle. 

The allotment’s $70,000 will be used to re-launch the defunct Castle Concert Series, create free masterclasses and lecture-recitals for students, as well as pay for off-campus cultural events. 

The fourth and final allotment is $150,000 to fund the first-ever Indigenous arts festival and exhibition: Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts.

According to Tricia Baldwin, Director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, the festival is “an illuminating approach to Indigenous culture and creative process, and to social justice.” 

Isabel Bader particularly has taken special interest in the support of Indigenous arts at Queen’s.  

“The Indigenous peoples were here long before ‘we’ came as explorers, conquerors, immigrants—however we came,” Allen said. “They [haven’t] been well treated. Now we have at Queen’s the opportunity to celebrate and share their cultures. I believe [it’s] important to support this.”

Janice Hill, Director of Indigenous Initiatives at Queen’s, is delighted to see the strong formal support for Indigenous arts at Queen’s. 

“I think it’s an amazing step for them to take—to acknowledge that this kind of work is important,” Hill said.  “With all the work that we are doing, especially with decolonizing and re-indigenizing the institution, I think it’s a huge step to acknowledge the importance of Indigenous representation, especially in the arts.” 


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