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Federal funding allows Art Gallery of Hamilton to study potential expansion

A $112,000 federal investment could pave the way for a major renovation at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
A $112,000 federal investment could pave the way for a major renovation at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Ken Mann

The Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) is exploring an expansion that would allow it to display more of its permanent collection and to create museum space to educate visitors about the city’s history.

Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas Liberal MP Filomena Tassi announced on Tuesday morning that the gallery will receive $112,000 over two years to fund a “feasibility study to determine the viability of future improvements to the storage, display and interpretation of the gallery’s permanent collection.”

The support is through the federal government’s Canada Cultural Spaces Fund.

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AGH president and CEO Shelley Falconer says the gallery’s collection consists of more than 10,000 works, of which about three per cent are on display at any given time.

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Falconer says increasing that number is a “challenge,” noting that the AGH can’t afford to hang its permanent collection because it relies heavily on applied grants.

She adds that the feasibility study will allow the AGH to look into the potential for ensuring that high-profile works are “on display not for six months but for years, so that visitors, students alike can count on the fact that when they come to visit, the (Tom) Thomson will be here, Horse and Train will be here, or the Emily Carr.”

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Falconer says the study could also lead to an expansion of the gallery’s mandate to further educate visitors about the community’s history by creating dedicated museum space for that purpose.

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“Every day I am blown away by the rich history that exists in this city, the industrial history, the number of firsts that have taken place here,” she said.

She adds that what Hamilton doesn’t have is “one museum where you can go and see what I call the meta-narrative of that story.”

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Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger says he looks forward to the results of the feasibility study, noting that “the amount of art that is available, but not necessarily displayed, is absolutely outstanding.”