Past Exhibitions

An Autobiography of Our Collection

September 24, 2011 to April 15, 2012


Carole Itter
Grand Piano Rattle: a Bosendorfer for Al Neil
1984 (86.34 a-e)
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery
What is a museum collection? How does it reveal the personalities and particulars of an institution? For eighty years, the Vancouver Art Gallery has been acquiring artworks, and drawn exclusively from this permanent collection, An Autobiography of Our Collection considers the fascinating history of collecting at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The exhibition uses the concept of autobiography to explore how objects in a museum’s collection–and the collection as a whole–are charged with narrating an institution’s history, identity and aspirations. It considers the different figures who have played defining roles and reveals other forces that have shaped and re-shaped the Gallery’s personality, position and self-understanding.

Rather than creating a singular, cohesive story, this exhibition accentuates how the history and identity of an institution are fragmented, full of layered notations and self-perceptions. Collections, like human beings, are always in flux and under self-revision. An Autobiography of Our Collection incorporates the voices of many individual artists, collectors, museum staff and others who have shaped the narratives of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The exhibited work is both contemporary and historic, spanning from Emily Carr to Shirin Neshat and Andy Warhol to Brian Jungen. The more than eighty artists on view will also include B.C. Binning, Reg Davidson, Gathie Falk, Robert Frank, Andreas Gursky, Won Ju Lim, Robert Rauschenberg, George Segal, Takao Tanabe and Lawrence Weiner.

An Autobiography of Our Collection reveals the rich and diverse web of stories and ideas which together describe something of this place, while highlighting the long and colourful history that has brought together one of the most compelling collections of art in Canada.

Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Ian Thom, senior curator, historical, and Heidi Reitmaier, independent curator.

Generously Supported by our Visionary Partner:
Michael O'Brian Family Foundation