What is the Civic Collection?

    The City of Kingston’s Civic Collection of archival, archaeological, historical and artistic materials help us to document and describe the community’s past events, people, traditions and ideas. The collection originates from several separate municipal museums and other City cultural assets. Combined, they form the present-day Civic Collection. 

    The City’s curatorial and collections staff in the Cultural Services Department work with the community to develop, maintain, and interpret the Civic Collection. Potential acquisitions of historical objects and artworks are assessed against specific criteria that measure their relevance to Kingston history, their current condition and long-term storage and care requirements. 

    The Civic Collections sub-collections include: 

    • The MacLachlan Woodworking Museum Collection was established in 1966 by Sandy MacLachlan; today it is one of the largest collections of 1800s and 1900s woodworking tools in Canada.  
    • The PumpHouse Collection originated with Kingston’s first Water Works in 1849 and was bolstered when the site became a museum in 1973. The collection includes engines, pumps, and model trains. 
    • City Hall opened its doors in 1844 as a government building, market and police department. This collection includes historical furniture, mayor’s portraits, chains of office and gifts. 
    • The Art Collection Society began collecting contemporary Canadian art in 1957 with the purpose of one day opening a civic art gallery. The collection was formally given to the City in 1988. 
    • The Public Art and Outdoor Collection includes an array of objects from outdoor artworks, like Time by Kosso Eloul, to large vehicles like the 1095 steam locomotive and historic plaques. 
    • From the 1980s until 2015, the former Cataraqui Archaeological Research Foundation was responsible for much of Kingston’s archaeological work. Notable projects included Springer Market Square and the Leon’s Centre; many of their objects were transferred to the Civic Collection.

    The City of Kingston’s Archives Collection is handled by Queen’s University. All historic documents, maps, photographs are in their care. Contemporary Civic records are managed in-house.    

    Where is the Civic Collection kept?

    The Civic Collection is housed as various City of Kingston museum sites and storage locations where specific environmental and security standards can be maintained. A rotation of items is put on public display at municipal museums, City Hall and other civic locations in Kingston. 

    What is an Archaeologist?

    Archaeologists study human history through the excavation of sites and the analysis of artifacts and other physical remains. Archaeologists use scientific sampling techniques to guide where they need to dig on a site. They observe, record, categorize, and interpret what they find, then share their findings with other scientists and the public.

    What is an Archive?

    An archive (often written in the plural, archives) is an organization dedicated to preserving the documentary heritage of a particular group such as a city, a province, a business, a university or a community. 

    Archivists assemble, catalogue and care for records on paper, film and in electronic form in an archive.

    What is a Collections Technician?

    Collections technicians and other collections staff ensure the proper care and preservation of objects within cultural institutions such as museums, libraries, and archives. Collections technicians research and document objects in a collection and maintain detailed catalogue records for each piece.

    What is a Conservator?

    Conservators repair and preserve works of art, buildings, or other objects of cultural interest. Conservators typically specialize in one type of material or class of cultural property, including metals, archaeological artifacts, ethnographic artifacts, glass, ceramics, paintings, sculpture and textiles.

    What is a Curator?

    Curators are content specialists that oversee an institution’s collections and interpret heritage and artistic materials for the general public.

    The roles of museum professionals are evolving and changing to adapt to contemporary thinking.   Museums increasingly invite communities and individuals to help tell community stories and offer additional perspectives on history.

    Broader social changes also impact today’s collection decisions. As our communities and perspectives have diversified – women in the workforce, challenges to traditional male-dominated elite perspectives, cultural diversity – we have diversified our approaches to and critiques of collections.

    Who should I contact if I have a question about COVID-19?

    If you have a health-related question about COVID-19, precautionary measures, self-isolation or assessment, please visit the KFL&A Public Health COVID-19 webpage.

    Where should I go if I have a question about City services or facilities?

    For up-to-date information on the City’s COVID-19 precautions, impacts to City services, facilities and/or programs, and links to community resources, please visit the City's COVID-19 webpage.