$40-million gift for the Agnes and a new home for the Bader Collection

Queen's Gazette
23 June 2020

Donation from Bader Philanthropies, Inc., will revitalize the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, create a new home for the Bader Collection, and help researchers and students.

Queen’s University is announcing a $40-million (USD) gift from Bader Philanthropies, Inc., to revitalize and expand the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and create a new home for the Bader Collection.

The philanthropic investment has the potential to create one of the largest university art museums in Canada and will help Queen’s researchers and students play a fundamental role in enabling societies to better understand, protect, and experience the world’s artistic and cultural treasures.

“Queen’s University is the place where my father’s future as a renowned chemist, entrepreneur, art collector and philanthropist started and is one of the reasons why the Foundation is inspired to make a significant commitment,” says Daniel J. Bader, President/CEO of Bader Philanthropies, Inc. “Queen’s University’s ground-breaking vision for the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, a world class visual arts institution, has the potential to transform the lives of students, practitioners and art enthusiasts for decades to come.  And we are grateful to be a partner as we begin this chapter.”

The revitalized Agnes will create a vibrant hub for the presentation, research, and study of visual arts on campus. The facility will include the art museum, which is a learning space for diverse disciplines at Queen’s and is the public gallery for Kingston and region, as well as homes for the graduate program in Art Conservation, and graduate and undergraduate programs in Art History.

“The arts ignite our creative pursuits and speak to the very core of our humanity,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. Even during these trying and challenging times, we have seen how the arts have provided solace and optimism bringing us together to understand our shared history and culture. The power of art cannot be underestimated, and today’s announcement is an exciting step towards making Queen’s one of the world’s foremost leaders in arts education.”? 

Queen’s will be better able to attract top students and strengthen the university’s position as a premier destination for education in the visual arts. The revitalized Agnes will create new opportunities for research and enhance experiential learning opportunities for students across disciplines. For students in the arts, this will help them graduate as leaders in their fields who go on to make valuable contributions at the world’s top museums and institutes. 

“As a student of the arts, the value of the rich collections, incredible opportunities, and commitment to student learning at the Agnes cannot be understated,” says Maddi Andrews, Artsci19, MA21 and Research Assistant, Digital Projects (European Art) at the Agnes. “Not only have my academic studies been strengthened by proximity to these diverse collections, but my involvement as a volunteer and employee has uniquely prepared me for my future career path. The revitalization of Agnes means more students will have the opportunity to grow and explore.”

Expanded galleries and more technical spaces will enhance Queen’s ability to care for and showcase the Agnes’s magnificent art collections, including cutting-edge contemporary art, Indigenous art, Canadian historical art and African historical art, as well as the Collection of Canadian Dress. The Bader Collection of European Art comprises more than 500 works with a focus on 17th century Dutch and Flemish painting, including one portrait and three exquisite character studies by Rembrandt.

An expanded Agnes will enable the university to create central ceremonial and event spaces available to the entire Queen’s community, as well as dedicated space for use by Indigenous communities.

The revitalization project is expected to be completed in 2024. The Agnes was last expanded in 2000 with considerable assistance from the Bader Family.

The late Dr. Alfred Bader, BSc’45, BA’46, MSc’47, LLD’86, and his wife, Dr. Isabel Overton Bader, LLD’07, have been among the university’s most generous benefactors, supporting the arts at Queen’s for decades. 

Daniel (Alfred’s son) continues his family’s legacy of philanthropy at Queen’s. Last year, he and his wife, Linda, donated a Rembrandt painting, Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair, to the Agnes in honour of Alfred.

The funding announcement was made during a virtual event held on Zoom. To watch the virtual event and hear remarks from members of the Bader family as well as leaders from Queen’s, see the recording of the announcement.

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