A SHORT HISTORY
The St. Francis Xavier University Art Gallery features exhibitions that support Nova Scotia artists, art organizations, and galleries.
The gallery was established in 1976 when the director of Bloomfield Centre initiated building renovations that enabled displays of art on the fourth floor. Security problems in this open space, however, required that shows be relocated to the Council Chambers. Since this room was one of the main meeting places on campus, the availability of the room for viewing art was severely restricted.
A permanent location for the gallery was established in Bloomfield after the Bloomfield Centre Board of Directors and university administration approved plans to renovate a space on the first floor previously occupied by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Representatives from the university and the community helped bring about the opening and operations of new gallery with the installation of the St. Francis Xavier Art Gallery Board of Directors.
The St. Francis Xavier Art Gallery provided a new cultural dimension to the community, both by offering a place for local artists to show their works and bringing in touring exhibitions. From 1976 to 1987, fifty-seven exhibitions were held, predominately those featuring local and Nova Scotia artists. Other shows were supplied by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
During its first decade in operation, the gallery functioned without a budget. Any money that was spent came from the Bloomfield Centre budget, and it was up to the manager of Bloomfield to ensure that a yearly series was offered. Volunteers and the centre's general duties person provided valuable support at these events.
In October 1987, the university provided two part-time positions - gallery director and staff person - to manage and maintain the art gallery. Subsequently, the Gallery Board of Directors took a more active role in its operation and for the maintenance of the University Art Collection. Three subcommittees were established, taking on responsibility for fundraising, collection and acquisitions, and exhibitions; these committees enlisted the participation of volunteers from the local and university communities.
In 1992, the university's collection of 130 artworks and artifacts was appraised by Ian Muncaster. The university also provided funds for a three-year program of restoration and repair to the University Art Collection.
With subsequent donations, acquisitions, and discovery of artworks, the collection has expanded to 147 artworks. Although the StFX Art Gallery operates on a very modest budget as provided by the university, it still manages to be quite active. To date, it hosts approximately twelve exhibitions each year and attracts nearly 10,000 visitors annually.