Art Gallery of Windsor
401 Riverside Drive West|
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
|Director||Dr. Catharine Mastin|
Established in 1943, the gallery has a mandate as a public art space to show significant works of art by local, regional, and national artists. The Art Gallery of Windsor has created, collected, presented, and conserved one of Ontario's most significant collections of Canadian art, and is one of Windsor's most notable cultural reserves.
The Art Gallery of Windsor was originally located in Walkerville's Willistead Manor. The distinctive Tudor-Jacobean style building, built by architect Albert Kahn, housed the gallery from 1943 to 1975. It was during this period that the Art Gallery of Windsor was incorporated (1944) and developed the foundation of its collection of Canadian art.
Under the direction of Kenneth Saltmarche the gallery acquired its first collection. In 1947, the Art Gallery of Windsor, or as it was known at the time, The Willistead Gallery, also became one of the founding members of The Southern Ontario Gallery Group, later known as the Ontario Association of Art Galleries.
By 1958, attendance at Willistead Gallery overwhelmed the small space. Along with conflict between the Art Association, which controlled the gallery, and the library board from which it grew, the Windsor art movement was in danger of collapse. After approaching Windsor City Council to negotiate the situation, the Willistead Art Gallery became an independent institution with its own board of directors.
However, by 1967, the gallery was in crisis again, and the search for a new home for the gallery began. In 1970 it was suggested that the gallery take up residence in the abandoned Carling Brewery warehouse on the waterfront, an appropriately modern setting for a gallery in a manufacturing hub. The Art Gallery of Windsor, as it was now known, opened its doors in 1975 and there developed over the span of twenty years one of Ontario's most significant collections of Canadian art.
In 1993, the Art Gallery of Windsor experienced another major shift in both location and outlook. The gallery moved to the Devonshire Mall, leasing its industrial waterfront building to the Province of Ontario to house the new Casino Windsor in order to both raise the funds needed to expand the gallery and its collections.
For six years, the Art Gallery of Windsor remained in a limbo of sorts, unable to decide whether to remain in its inadequate Devonshire location, move to another location within the city and renovate, reclaim the warehouse location, or to build a new home for the gallery. Finally, in 1999, Dr. Lois Smedick, president of the AGW board of directors, unveiled plans for a new art museum on the old warehouse location. Shortly thereafter, the old Carling warehouse was torn down and a new modernist building was erected in its place, which houses the Art Gallery of Windsor today. A new museum, the Chimczuk Museum, is being built in the art gallery building, on the first floor, while the art gallery will occupy the two upper floors. The museum is named after Joseph Chimczuk, and will be opening in mid-January, but the grand opening ceremony will take place in mid-February, about a month after opening, to coincide with Heritage Week.
- "Art Gallery of Windsor". The Canadian Encyclopedia. The Historica Foundation of Canada. Retrieved 2009-05-03.
- "Willistead Manor". Friends of Willistead. Archived from the original on 2008-02-08. Retrieved 2009-05-03.
- Weeks, Elaine. "Well Hung! A Brief History of the Art Gallery of Windsor". The Walkerville Times. Retrieved 2009-05-03.
- "About OAAG: History of OAAG". Ontario Association of Art Galleries. 2004. Retrieved 2009-05-03.