Queen's University

About Agnes

Agnes Etherington Art Centre is a research‐intensive art museum located on the historic campus of Queen’s University. It illuminates the great artistic traditions of the past and the innovations of the present through year-round programs of exhibitions and outreach activities staged across nine beautiful galleries, the Biéler Studio, and assorted public spaces including the gracious period rooms of the historic Etherington House. As a space of display, innovation and exchange, Agnes is an experiential learning space for diverse disciplines at Queen’s, and the public gallery for Kingston and region. Its superb collections—numbering over 17,000 works―include cutting-edge contemporary art and fine examples of Canadian historical art, Indigenous art and artifacts, and material culture including the Collection of Canadian Dress and the Lang Collection of African Art. The Bader Collection, focusing on Rembrandt and his school, centres on more than 200 paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, including one portrait and three exquisite character studies by Rembrandt.

Message from the Director

As 2020 begins, embrace this fresh decade by enjoying the Season Launch on 16 January: please join us to celebrate a suite of seven powerful new exhibitions. Our curators and invited guest curators are presenting a rich range of art dating from the 1500s to the current moment, including several recently acquired works. Don’t miss this occasion!

My retirement from the role of director is fast approaching (effective 1 January). It has been an enormous privilege to participate in and lead the work of this very fine art museum, and to see it thrive. I am deeply grateful to the many volunteers, donors and contributors who have made this success possible, to our wonderful audiences and participants, and to the artists and scholars at the heart of the gallery’s life. The commitment and creative drive of the gallery’s talented staff have been inspiring at every step. My heartfelt thanks to each for their trust and encouragement through an utterly fascinating career.

Looking ahead, I have every confidence that this beautiful momentum will continue to blossom as the gallery begins its next phase of growth. Agnes will continue to rely on the generous involvement of its communities on every level. With the pledge of a significant lead gift, we have updated our Strategic Plan to prioritize an exciting capital project: in early 2020, a formal “visioning” process will shape a bold infrastructure renewal and expansion.

Pending the appointment of my successor, an Interim Director will be appointed to bring continuity to initiatives in digital development and collections development, and to advance the Agnes’s mission of connecting art and artists with our immediate and global communities.

—Jan Allen, Director

Mandate / Mission

Agnes Etherington Art Centre is a research‐intensive professional art museum that proudly serves a dual mandate as an active educational resource at Queen’s University and as a public gallery for the Kingston community and beyond. By researching, collecting and preserving works of art, and through exhibiting and interpreting visual culture spanning the great artistic traditions of the past and the innovations of the present, Agnes creates opportunities for participation and exchange within and across communities. In doing so, we aim to make leading contributions in the field of visual and media art and to nurture the dignity and well-being of all peoples.


Agnes Etherington Art Centre aims:

  • To steward the physical integrity—and imaginatively extend the intellectual and cultural value—of significant art collections.
  • To showcase high artistic achievement in a considered program that reflects the multiple contexts of our immediate and global locales, including the research and learning environment of Queen’s University and our presence on the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe.
  • To provide welcoming access to programs and collections for diverse audiences, from academic and public communities alike, to experience the transformative power of art.
  • Through our work with art and artists, to deepen knowledge of and relationship with Indigenous peoples and racialized persons, and to advance social justice and the work of decolonization.

Funders / Partners

Queen’s University, the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, City of Kingston Arts Fund through the Kingston Arts Council, Ontario Arts Foundation, Government of Canada, and Lloyd Carr-Harris Foundation, along with funds held at Queen’s University, including: The Bader Legacy Fund, Isabel & Alfred Bader Fund of Bader Philanthropies, David and Patti Bain Memorial Fund, Janet Braide Memorial Fund, The Celebrating Agnes Fund, Dodge Family Indigenous Art Collection Research Fund, Franks Fund, Rita Friendly Kaufman Fund, Justin and Elisabeth Lang Fund, David McTavish Art Study Fund, Chancellor Richardson Memorial Fund, George Taylor Richardson Memorial Fund, John L. Russell and Gerald Brenner Fund, Iva Speers Fund for Art Education, and Stonecroft Foundation for the Arts Fund. We are grateful for the crucial ongoing support of our members, and corporate and private donors.


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

Agnes Etherington Art Centre opened to the public in 1957, with artist André Biéler as founding director. In its early years, before Queen’s University created the Department of Art, Agnes housed the art library and was the site of the university’s art and art history classes. To fulfill the gallery’s expanding role as collections and programs grew, extensions to the building were made in 1962, 1975, 1978 and 2000.

The seeds of 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 an art gallery that would serve both the university and the wider community.

A Profile on Agnes Etherington

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

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