This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery.
In the winter of 1956, a group of local visionaries met to establish an art gallery in Kitchener-Waterloo, building upon an idea that had taken root thirty years earlier — to collect and exhibit art of their time and take the lead in presenting current work by Canadian and international artists.
On 23 September 1956, the Gallery’s first exhibition, opened by A.Y. Jackson, took place in a bicycle shed behind KW Collegiate: a major exhibition of paintings by Tom Thomson.
Since that time, the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, the region’s largest and oldest public art gallery, has continued to lead the way, exhibiting the best in Canadian contemporary art and positioning the Gallery on the national and international stage.
From humble beginnings in a bicycle shed beside KW Collegiate to the current purpose-built facility in Centre in the Square, this cultural gem has evolved into a leader in the visual arts on a national level. In keeping with the spirit of the Waterloo region, the Gallery has embraced entrepreneurship and innovation, offering exhibitions and programs that are original and engaging.
The 60th is an anniversary that brings with it a sense of renewal. Far from slowing down, KWAG has been reinventing itself, expanding its reputation and reaching an insatiably curious, open-minded and growing audience. This wind of change is pushing us toward a winning future.
Supporting the Gallery through events like Black and Gold means that we can continue to to bring the best in contemporary Canadian and international artists and their works to the region and continue to connect people and ideas through art.
A.Y. Jackson (centre) opens Tom Thomson exhibition, Gerald Eastman and Donald M.C. Shaw, present September 21, 1956
Photo: Courtesy of University of Waterloo Library. Kitchener Waterloo Record Photographic Negative Collection.