Agnes revitalization will include dedicated areas for Indigenous communities

Grant will go to expansion and revitalization of the Art Centre  

The Agnes is located on University Avenue next to the historic Etherington house.
Journal File Photo


This article was updated on Oct. 30, 2020.

Twenty years after its last expansion, the Agnes will be renovated into one of the largest University Art Museums in Canada.

The new construction was made possible through a $40 million grant provided by Bader Philanthropies Inc., a non-profit foundation set up by late Queen’s alum Alfred Bader and his wife Isabel.

The Agnes is home to more than 17,000 works ranging from contemporary to Canadian historical art. When the facility is revitalized it will still be attached to the historic Etherington house where the original Agnes started.

READ MORE: Queen’s mourns loss of Dr. Alfred Bader

The Agnes will see many changes as a result of the funding, including dedicated areas for Indigenous communities and new opportunities for research, making Agnes a place for presentation, study, and research of the fine arts at Queen’s.

The Journal spoke with Alicia Boutilier, interim director and chief curator, about how the donation will improve the Agnes.

“The funds will be used for the new build. It will be used for a revitalized Agnes. A renewed facility that will include the Agnes and will include art history and art conservation. That money will go directly toward the hiring of the architect and the construction phase,” Boutilier said.

Boutilier also commented on the Baders' generosity. “They have had a significant impact [on the Queen’s community],” she said.

“We are so very lucky that Dr. Alfred Bader was fond of Queen’s and made Queen’s the focus of his philanthropies, and that he appreciated the time he had here as a student. His love of art has also resulted in Queen’s benefitting from that.”

The Agnes is already central to students studying Fine Arts at the undergraduate and graduate levels, but its staff hope the refurbishment will attract people from all disciplines to the new space.   

“Art gives us a view of the world that tells us about ourselves,” Boutilier said. “It is an integral aspect of learning and knowledge. It allows us to see the world in different ways and reveals social justices to us. It opens up spaces.”

Boutilier is excited about the future that lies ahead for the Agnes and believes its expansion will create a larger role for the visual arts community at Queen’s.

“The next four years is going to be a real treat to be a part of in working with colleagues at Queen’s, the Agnes, and the community to build a space that everyone can be a part of.”

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