AGYU is thrilled to announce the official launch of York University’s Art Collection as a comprehensive online searchable database, providing students, scholars, and the public with digital access to York University’s valued art collection. This digital resource houses nearly 2000 artworks by local, national, and international artists, spanning a wide range of artistic mediums including painting, sculpture, prints, photography, and new media.
Corresponding with the founding of the University, the art collection has played a pivotal role in enriching the academic and cultural experience at York. With the transformation of the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) into a publicly funded gallery in the late eighties, the collection came under the gallery’s supervision and care, and, with its transformation into the Joan and Martin Goldfarb Gallery in the Fall of 2024, the University’s art collection will be further elevated as the new stand-alone building allows for the transformation of the current gallery space into a visible vault for the art collection, increasing its accessibility and significance within the university’s cultural landscape.
The University’s commitment to collecting and preserving art is reflected in the diverse and eclectic range of artworks found within the collection. In the late 1960s, York University made significant acquisitions, adding pioneering works by Canadian abstractionists to its holdings, including iconic pieces by Montreal-based non-figurative artists such as Guido Molinari, Claude Tousignant, and Yves Gaucher. York University is also home to an impressive collection of over 300 Inuit prints and stone carvings produced in the 1960s by artists from the Kinngait Co-operative (Cape Dorset) in Nunavut, acquired in the early seventies. Featuring work by Pitseolak Ashoona, Kenojuak Ashevak, Johnny Inukpuk, and Qaqak Ashoona, among others, these prints and sculptures represent an important body of work produced by founding artists of the longest running and most influential artists cooperative in the North.
The collection has continued to expand, with generous donations notably a major gift of sculptures, paintings, and works on paper by Joan and Martin Goldfarb. This significant donation of 65 artworks includes a selection of Andy Warhol silk screen portraits, an iconic painting by Helen Frankenthaler as well paradigmatic works by Norval Morrisseau, founder of the Woodland School. The collection also reflects AGYU’s program, including commissioned works such as RISE by Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca, a film featuring 30 performers from Toronto’s Jane Finch and Scarborough neighborhoods, as well as an LED sculpture, Politics, that was part of Hannah Black’s exhibition the Meaning of Life.

The launch of the online database signifies a milestone in York University’s commitment to making its art collection accessible to a broader audience. This user-friendly digital platform allows students, faculty, art historians, and art enthusiasts to explore the collection’s holdings. Even as we are still adding to the database, users can currently search, browse, and learn about many of the artworks in York University’s collection.
Jenifer Papararo, Director/Curator of the Art Gallery of York University, remarks that “making the University’s collection accessible for research has been an important priority over the last 3 years and marks a future-oriented vision of art acquisition that is tied not only to building legacy for the University but also with a responsibility to assemble a pedagogical resource.”
Access to the online database is free and open to the public, aligning with the Art Gallery of York University’s commitment to fostering cultural appreciation and accessibility.  
This searchable database was brought to you through the labour of numerous people. AGYU would like to acknowledge all of our Young Canada Work Students since 2020 who worked to write bios, document artworks, and file condition reports including: Nassim Abu Sarari, Adi Berardini, Sarah Charette, Rachel Deiterding, Shadio Hussein, Sha Li, Danica Pinteric, Vince Rozario, Julie Saccucci, Madalyne Shaw, and Josie Spalla. We thank Ali Qadeer and Jenna Maaskant for web development, and Marta Ryczko for graphic design. We acknowledge the visioning work of AGYU staff, including Jenifer Papararo, curator/director, Michael Maranda, assistant curator, publishing; Liz Ikiriko who was in the position of curator of collections and contemporary art engagement; and Allyson Adley, education and community engagement coordinator.
We also take this opportunity to thank our Art Acquisition Committee for their work and foresight: Carlyle Farrelle, Susana Gajic-Bruyea, Anna Hudson, Michelle Lavalle, Len Milley, Lillian O’Brien Davis, Jenifer Papararo, and Archer Pechawis

Please visit the database repeatedly: https://collection.ggyu.art/

York University is a leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. With a strong focus on social justice, it engages a diverse community of students and scholars, fostering innovation and creativity. York University is home to a rich and diverse art collection, representing a valuable resource for academic inquiry and cultural enrichment.

For more information on the database please contact Michael Maranda, assistant curator, publications: mmarand@yorku.ca
For queries related to the collection please contact Allyson Adley, education and community engagement coordinator: aadley@yorku.ca

See also

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GGYU Ground Breaking

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