KW|AG is the oldest, largest collecting public art gallery in Waterloo Region. The Gallery is working to position itself as a leader in Canada. From its humble beginnings in a bicycle shed beside KW Collegiate, to a church meeting hall on Benton Street, to the Gallery's present purpose-built accommodation in the Centre In The Square, the Gallery is setting a new direction for the visual arts in Waterloo Region and beyond. KW|AG would not be here today without the vision of the founders and early supporters and builders who created this public treasure.
In 2007, the Gallery celebrated its 50th Anniversary featuring a special exhibition titled A Telling Story: KW|AG @ 50 with displays of historical artefacts and artworks from the Permanent Collection, along with its recent commissions of the Gallery's ongoing Parochial Views photographic series. A 50th anniversary celebration alumni event was also in September 2007, attended by over 200 past members and supporters, board members, leaders and community champions.
KW|AG Timeline of Events
The Gallery's first Board of Directors was formed in August 1956 with Gerald E. Eastman, a lawyer with the firm of Smith, Clement, & Eastman, serving as the first president. Board members included Elizabeth Breithaupt, D.R. Dattels, Elizabeth Eastman, W.W. Foot, W.H. Hallman, Gordon Hamblin, D.T. Kelly, Mrs. Henry C. (Mabel) Krug, Mrs. D.F. MacDonald, A.G. Magee, John Schlachter, Mrs. A..M. Shaw, Mrs. W.H. Sims, J.H. Smyth, Dr. D.W. Whaley.
A bicycle shed located behind Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate Institution on King Street was the Gallery's first home. The Gallery officially opened in September 1956 with an exhibition of works by Canadian artist Tom Thomson. The exhibition was officially opened by A. Y. Jackson.
The Gallery moved to a 9,000 square foot location at 43 Benton Street, a former church, in 1968. At the time, there were 400 works in the Gallery's Permanent Collection. In 1980, the Gallery moved to its current purpose-built location in Centre In The Square, 101 Queen Street North, Kitchener. The Gallery is a tenant in the building and operates independently of the Centre.
For over 50 years, the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery has grown from a small, locally-focused volunteer organization to a major force in the Canadian art world. Today, the Gallery is poised on the brink of extraordinary transformation and achievement with its community presence growing substantially and its curatorial programs and exhibitions gaining recognition on a much wider scale.
Presidents of KW|AG's Board of Directors
1991-1992 - J. Ronald McGill
1993-1994 - Robert W. Rombough
1995-1996 - E. Austin Fricker
1997-1999 - Sandra Dare
2000-2001 - J. Michael Carty
2001-2002 - Michael Beck
2003-2006 - Thomas Mennill
2006-2009 - Peggy Jarvie
2009- - Judith Stephens-Wells