The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery is Waterloo Region’s leading public art gallery, connecting people and ideas through art, with a focus on the best of contemporary culture. Like most museums the Gallery collects, preserves, researches, interprets, and exhibits the visual arts while offering dynamic public programming related to visual culture, all with a view to inspiring creativity and an appreciation of the visual arts. Established in 1956 and incorporated in 1968, the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery is a non-profit organization open to the public and administered in the public trust. With humble beginnings in a bicycle shed, then to a church meeting hall on to the present purpose-built accommodation in Centre in the Square, the Gallery has grown from a small art organization to a major force in the Canadian art world. The first show was an exhibition of works by Canadian artist Tom Thomson and since then KWAG continues its commitment to bringing innovative and thought-provoking programming to the public reflecting the vision of its founders. The Gallery plays a key role in advancing the work of young artists and connecting with contemporary issues in art.
With its emphasis on contemporary art, often premiering works by Canadian and international artists, KWAG has featured solo exhibitions by artists such as Jason de Haan, David Harper, David Hoffos, Sarah Cale, and Brendan Fernandes. The Gallery’s thematic exhibitions touch upon topical issues such as The Limits, Ecotopia, Circling the Inverse Square and the recent Imitation of Life.
Exhibitions frequently include selections from over 4000 works in the Permanent Collection, which provide a context and forum for dialogue on current exhibitions and contemporary issues. The collection includes works by historical and contemporary artists such as Homer Watson, Elizabeth Eastman, members of the Group of Seven and Painters 11, Jean Paul Riopelle, Michael Snow, Joyce Wieland as well as Geoffrey James, Robert Bourdeau, Guy Maddin, Milutin Gubash, April Hickox, Paul Peel, Colwyn Griffith, Eleanor Bond, David Harper, among others. The Gallery holds a large collection of photographic works by Edward Burtynsky and a collection of paintings from the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum collection of international Naïve art.
The KWAG provides the public with a wide range of experiences in the visual arts through education and public programs, outreach activities, specialized workshops, publications, collection accessibility, research and art expertise. Our key objectives for exhibitions focus on generating dialogue with contemporary art and its issues through a range of public programming from lunch hour talks, panel discussions, and collaborations with our culturally diverse community to art and wellness initiatives with our seniors’ programming and professional development workshops for corporate executives and resident doctors.
The Gallery is located in a region that is a distinctive blend of urban and rural. Internationally known for its manufacturing and insurance industries, leading–edge technology and climate of innovation, Waterloo Region has earned a reputation as a forward-thinking community. Located in downtown Kitchener, the Gallery is part of and plays a role in the revitalization of the City.