Cambridge Art Galleries is a cultural innovator and creative instigator through engagement with a diverse range of artists and their work in our communities. We emphasize diversity, access, and innovation. Our exhibitions, artistic programs, and collection provide vital opportunities for the examination of, and experimentation within, contemporary culture and public discourse. We strive to transcend traditional practices in order to stimulate empowered, alternative, enriching artistic dialogues and collaborations.
Cambridge Art Galleries' mandate is to serve our regional and broader communities through the delivery of contemporary art programs that foster critical cultural dialogue. Our artistic activities engage, embrace, and empower people of all ages and abilities from diverse ethnic, social, and cultural backgrounds. We promote and support emerging and professional artists, advocate for the advancement of the creative sector, and we actively acquire, conserve, exhibit, and evolve the context of our permanent collection of contemporary Canadian fibre art.
Our public programming in the City of Cambridge began in 1977 with Eric Dewdney as the founding director. The mezzanine on the second floor of the main library, Queen’s Square, was the primary exhibition space. Soon after, a gallery featuring regular exhibitions of work by regional and emerging artists was introduced within Preston library.
In the mid-1980s, a much-improved gallery area was created in the former concert hall on the second floor of Queen’s Square. A major expansion of the Queen’s Square was completed in 1993, creating a new main floor dedicated gallery and public programming space.
When the University of Waterloo School of Architecture moved to Cambridge, we became partners in a gallery operation within the school’s facility in the former Riverside Silk Mill on Melville Street. Design at Riverside operated from 2004 through 2019 with a mandate to exhibit architecture and design.
Cambridge Art Galleries maintains a permanent collection of contemporary Canadian fibre art, which we hold in public trust. The collection focus reflects the region’s early industrial base, established by the textile industry that flourished in mills along the Grand River. The collection has largely grown with the assistance of many dedicated volunteers who organized annual fundraising events in support of the collection. Since 1986, our biennial national juried exhibition, Fibreworks, has presented the work of Canadian artists working in fibre and textiles.