Agnes Etherington Art Centre

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Rendering of Agnes Etherington Art Centre Renovation Exterior

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University is set to become the largest public university-affiliated museum in Canada. A new three-floor building will double the amount of current gallery space at the museum.

The Agnes is home to The Bader Collection - the most comprehensive collection of authenticated paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn and his circle in any institution within Canada.

Agnes’s current physical space (will be) closed effective March 29, 2024.  Construction will begin on May 13, 2024, with the new space scheduled to open in 2026.

When complete, the first and second floors will be for gallery space. It will display collections from among the 17,000 art objects held by the museum. Throughout the new space, Western and Indigenous worldviews will sit side by side as equal.

The ground floor will feature a welcome centre as well as a children’s maker space, an art study centre, an art studio, galleries, seating, and a café. A 250-person capacity Arts & Events Hub will be available for concerts, screenings, art installations, conferences, and dinners.

The second floor will feature Indigenous Self-Determination Spaces and fully support cultural practices not typically considered in Western institutional spaces.

The third floor will be dedicated to advanced art teaching and research labs for the art conservation program and enhanced object-based learning for the Department of Art History and Art Conservation.

The adjacent Etherington House will become a live-in artist residency and community-facing culture hub. An outdoor medicine garden will nourish practices extending across the museum’s entire ecosystem.

Indigenous worldviews will be a unique and integral part of the project. A purposefully reimagined Keeping Place, designed around ancestors’ needs, will shift care away from Western ideas of preservation to create living spaces for the continued use and implementation of Indigenous cultural practices and traditions. Indigenous-specific spaces will also offer an opportunity to educate non-Indigenous visitors.

Agnes Reimagined

The project will also provide exciting opportunities for learning and research.

Agnes Reimagined will push boundaries, support state-of-the-art research, and educate and excite visitors from across the country and around the globe. It will cement Queen’s reputation as a premier destination for research and education in the visual arts. The new facilities will create opportunities for groundbreaking technical art research and experiential art-based learning for art students, as well as for a range of other academic disciplines, including engineering, business, health sciences, humanities, and physical sciences. Agnes Reimagined will fundamentally change the way art and art conservation are studied at Queen's University, enabling students to work more directly with some of the most advanced equipment and important collections in North America,

The project was made possible thanks to a US$75 million gift from Bader Philanthropies, Inc and through the leadership and philanthropy of the late Alfred Bader (Sc'45, Arts'46, MSc'47, LLD'86) and the late Isabel Bader (LLD’07).

Project Updates

Activity and Description Anticipated Duration
Overall Project Timeline: Additional details to follow as construction progress. The overall project is expected to take approximately two years. Spring 2024 – 2026

University begins Agnes Etherington Art Centre redevelopment

The current physical space at Agnes has been closed as of April 2024, and construction is set to begin on May 13, 2024. 

 Project Background & FAQs

  • The project will expand the current Agnes building, increasing gallery space to the first and second floors with over 17,000 art objects held by the museum.

  • Indigenous Self-Determination Spaces as well as a Keeping Place will help continue the work of decolonization on campus, preserving Indigenous cultural practices and traditions.

  • Advanced state-of-the-art teaching and research labs will be incorporated on the third floor, enhancing object-based learning for the Department of Art History and Art Conservation.

Renovations and expansion of the existing building are targeted to start in May of 2024 with the building targeted for occupancy in 2026. Please sign up here for project updates.

The project will incorporate sustainable technologies to minimize greenhouse gases in support of the sustainability goals set out in the Queen’s Climate Action Plan, as well as follow Queen's Building Standards regarding environmental sustainability. This building will be heated and cooled using a geothermal system, will include a green roof, and the design implements solar shading around the entire building for energy saving measures.