The Market Wing of Kingston City Hall faces west onto Market Square at the rear of the building.
It was once office space for city staff but, following a $140,000 renovation started in July 2020 it has been transformed into a new municipal exhibition space.
With the new look comes a new name — the Market Wing Cultural Space.
“The purpose now of this area is twofold, to look at Kingston history through a lens of heritage but also through arts,” said Colin Wiginton, the city’s cultural director.
The first exhibition is a return of a past popular exhibition called Ontario Street Then and Now.
Wiginton says the show examines the evolution of one of the downtown core roads that runs along the city’s waterfront.
“How it’s evolved from what was originally land inhabited by Indigenous Peoples to the creation of fortification with the arrival of the French and then the British,” said Wiginton, “it’s transition into industrial space … and then as we see it now which is more residential and park space.”
Those who want to delve a little more deeply into the street’s history can do a self-guided walking tour.
“People are invited to pick up a set of ten postcards that are available,” Wiginton said. “Taking ten stops along the way to discover what had been there and what’s there now.”
The exhibit contains artifacts from the municipal civic collection as well as art by local artists.
“Emerging artists as well as more established artists responding to historical images of Ontario Street,” Wiginton noted.
Wiginton says the newly renovated 2,000 square foot space is a reaction to another municipal initiative called Your Stories Our Histories.
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“What we were hearing from the community is we want to tell more stories, more inclusive stories.”
To meet that goal the cultural director says plans for future exhibits include telling the stories and history of Black Kingstonians and refugees.
“In the months to come, we’ll be hiring an Indigenous curator who will be working to develop Indigenous-focused content which will become a permanent feature of this site.”
Wiginton says because of the current pandemic the hours for the new cultural space are limited for now.
The Market Wing Cultural Space will be open every Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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