The MSAC Collection was established in 1980, when the gallery was opened to the public. The AGG Collection was established in 2015, when the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre became the Art Gallery of Guelph. With a joint focus on contemporary Canadian art, many of the acquisitions for the MSAC and AGG Collections occur in conjunction with major solo exhibitions and are documented in supporting publications. The contemporary collections represent Canadian and international artists, as well as artists from Guelph and the surrounding region.
For example, in 2000 the gallery acquired Carl Skelton’s Canadiana/Begging Bear (1995-1999) in conjunction with the exhibition, Out Here, which travelled to the Cold City Gallery (Toronto), Kamloops Art Gallery (BC), William Turner Gallery (LA), and MSAC (now AGG) between 1999 and 2000. Skelton’s Begging Bear has since been embraced by the Guelph community as an iconic sculpture and a site for community-borne messaging and celebration.
Likewise, in 2008 the gallery purchased Untitled (Rememory) (2008), a giclée print on photo rag paper by Guelph artist Susan Dobson, which was first shown in the exhibition Rememory (2008). The purchase of Dobson’s work led in 2010 to a major gift from the artist of seven additional works from the same series. The Rememory series has since been featured in the exhibition The Black and the White: An Allegory of Colour, guest curated by Robert Enright for the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (2013).