The Art Gallery of Hamilton
A city such as Hamilton is known as an employment and innovation hub; a large population, combined with access to some of the best transportation routes in Canada has ensured the city’s growth in these areas throughout its existence. However, no city exists on industrial dollars alone, and the city of Hamilton includes many programs and buildings that help to contribute to the culture of its citizens.
The Hamilton Art Gallery is one of the cultural centres of the city. The Gallery was founded in 1914 and is intimately tied to the relationship between William Blair Bruce and Caroline Benedicks. Benedicks was a sculptress, and Bruce a Canadian artist. The two met in France (Benedicks’ home country was Sweden) and enjoyed almost 20 years of life together before Bruce died at the age of 47. Both his widow and his father, who still lived in Hamilton, offered the city 29 of Bruce’s original works upon his death, with an understanding that a gallery would be established to house them. It took six years, but in 1913 the city designated two floors of the old Hamilton Public Library building to the collection, setting the foundation for the Gallery as it is today.
The Art Gallery of Hamilton still stands at its original King Street location today, although in 2003 the gallery began an extensive renovation project to bring the building up to the standards it needed in order to realize its goals. These goals included becoming and internationally renowned centre for art display, with over 9,000 works on display and archived in the building. These works are being protected throughout the renovations, as a major concern in the old building is water leaks.
What you can expect at the Art Gallery of Hamilton
Due to the large number of works on display and the interest of a large variety of demographics, the Art Gallery of Hamilton maintains a flexible schedule for both public and private viewings of the historical Canadian and European works as well as contemporary pieces housed in the library. A yearlong celebration of the art of Asia is scheduled at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, from September 2007 to September 2008.
Permanent displays in the Gallery include the founding pieces of the Bruce Memorial as well as the 200+ pieces of art donated by the Tanenbaum brothers, a donation which truly changed the regard in which the Hamilton Gallery was viewed internationally. It’s well worth the visit, whether on your own or for a guided tour.