The John B. Aird Gallery occupies a unique place in the history of Ontario’s public art galleries. Located in the heart of the Provincial government complex, the Gallery maintains an arms length association with the Government of Ontario. The space the “Aird” occupies was opened as a gallery in 1975, by the then conservative government, under the leadership of Premier William Davis. The Macdonald Gallery, as it was then called, was managed by the Government Services Branch, in large part because of the interest and determination of Margaret Scrivener, the Minister of the Branch, who was paramount in the gallery’s establishment.
In 1984, the Macdonald Gallery was closed. However, artists concerned over the loss of the exhibition space formulated a plan to re-open it under the guidance of a Management Committee composed of representatives from six art societies. The societies included the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, Ontario Crafts Council, Ontario Society of Artists, Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Sculptors Society of Canada, and the Society of Canadian Artists. Negotiations with the government were successful and The John B. Aird Gallery was opened in 1985 and named in honour of the twenty-third Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario to recognize his exceptional support of the visual arts in Canada.
The Gallery is now governed by an Executive Committee, known as the John B. Aird Gallery Board of Directors. The Board directs the gallery and its operations and an Executive Director/Curator, appointed by the Board, works to achieve the aims of the gallery and manages day to day operations.
In 2008, the John B. Aird Gallery received charitable status and is now a not-for-profit, charitable organization serving the art community and the public. The gallery presents exhibitions and related activities for the purposes of study, education and the enjoyment of art.
The Gallery showcases a cohesive, varied program of solo, group, juried and curated exhibitions. Exhibitions are developed from proposals made by individuals or groups of artists, the Gallery’s Director/Curator and other experts in the visual arts field. Among these exhibitions, the gallery currently organizes three juried shows each year: The DRAWING Show, The PRINT Show, and Photo-OP (a juried photography exhibition). Additoinally, the Gallery annually partners with three of the founding societies: the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, Ontario Society of Artists, and Sculptors Society of Canada in the presentation of exhibitions.
To augment its exhibitions, the Gallery programs educational and interpretive activities. Educational programs provide the public with an understanding and appreciation of the works themselves, the concepts behind their development and production, as well as of the techniques used in creating them.
A large number of artists and art lovers enjoy the use of the gallery. Exhibition receptions, artists talks and other events are always warm and inviting, and provide opportunities to connect with people from all walks of life. Come and be part of the community.