While the AGH Centennial celebrates the people, spaces and activities that have made the Gallery one of the most dynamic independent art museums in Canada, we should never lose sight of its prized permanent collection, which we hold in trust for the people of Hamilton. As the foundational treasure that propels our enterprise as a museum, the collection ranks among the finest in Canada.
What began 100 years ago with the donation of 29 paintings in memory of Hamilton-born artist, William Blair Bruce, now numbers 10,000 works. While other ‘encyclopedic’ museums present a broader range of objects, the specificity and depth of the AGH collection in three core areas—Canadian historical, Canadian and global contemporary, and European art—are its strength.
Art for a Century: 100 for the 100th, which gathers selected masterpieces from the permanent collection chosen by Dr. Benedict Leca, Director, Curatorial Affairs, Tobi Bruce, Senior Curator of Canadian Historical Art and Melissa Bennett, Curator of Contemporary Art, exemplifies the sustained level of quality of the three collections. From late 19th-century landscapes to masterworks from the Group of Seven, from Baroque masterpieces of Dutch and Italian art to important French 19th-century academic painting, from a full offering of contemporary art of the last decades to a rich selection of African material, the AGH collection covers these significant domains with distinction.
The works presented in this exhibition are arranged to suggest occasional formal or thematic resonances. The display occupying the entire second floor is an invitation to our Members and visitors to wander, discover, and contemplate anew the treasures that will continue to enlighten for the next 100 years and beyond.