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Founder Agnes Etherington
André Biéler, the Art Centre's first director and a respected artist, leads an outing for art students.

The seeds of the Agnes Etherington 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 nurtured the arts in Kingston throughout her life and, in her final years, drew up plans to bequeath her family home, 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 artist André Biéler as founding director. In its early years, before the creation of the Department of Art, the Agnes housed the art library and was the site of art and art history classes offered at Queen’s. To fulfill the gallery’s expanding role as collections and programs grew, extensions to the building were made in 1962, 1975, 1978 and 2000.

Today, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre is a thriving hub for enjoyment, study and participation in the visual arts. The gallery presents a dozen new exhibitions each year, accompanied by artists’ talks and performances, public lectures, tours, symposia, workshops, school and family programs, as well as classes and summer day-camps for children and youth. The Agnes is renowned for its innovative exhibition practices, research leadership, high quality publications, educational outreach and superb collection.