Acadia University’s permanent collection of art began in the late 19th century when a fund for portraits of Acadia Presidents, Governors and other prominent people of the area was established by the Acadia Board of Governors. Many other of the early works in the collection came through donations of both university and local community. The collection was further developed in 1926, when Dr. Walter Abell, Acadia’s first Art History Professor, with support from the Carnegie Foundation brought a teaching collection with him and acquired works during his 18-year tenure at Acadia.
Acadia alumna Helen Beals assumed Abell’s position in 1945 and served the University until 1963. Beals cut the ribbon to open the Acadia University Art Gallery on October 13, 1978, realizing a long-standing dream of many alumni, including Beals and Constance Hayward. The gallery was established to serve the University in an educational capacity, and to add to the cultural strength of the Annapolis Valley.
In 1978, with the establishment of the gallery, the development of the collection was pursued more actively. An inventory of works was made and a climate-controlled storage area was created. To continue the strength of the permanent collection, an acquisitions fund was established, with the support of Alumni including Beals and Hayward and an acquisitions committee, made up of the gallery director and members of the University and local community, was formed. The gallery also regularly accepts donations of works of art from alumni and community - please contact the gallery for more information.
Want to learn more about works in the collection and the research we do with art? check out the Acadia University Art Gallery blog, launched in June 2016!