Permanent collections are complex, amazing, and very weighted. The ways they are formed, presented, and interpreted all speak of choices—choices made one hundred years ago and yesterday. These choices express who we are, and crucially, who we want to be.

Here at the Art Gallery of Hamilton we are proud of our collection, while at the same time recognizing that there is still work to be done in accounting for the biases and omissions of our holdings. Although we aim to have old favourites out on the floor as much as possible, we also have a responsibility to bring lesser-known work to public consideration. Given the challenges of properly balancing these concerns, and knowing that for practical reasons only a small percentage of the collection can be out of the vaults at any given time, what kind of choices inform how we present the collection?

This selection explores a series of questions about collections and their presentation; questions that should reflect the times we live in and the things we are talking about as a society. That is how inanimate objects come alive. And that is why they (still) matter so much.