Bill And John Sitting Outside On Their Deck Smiling

Bill Brown and John McKinven

By: Jenna Hobin, B.A. Hons
Giving Insight Spring 2023 Edition

John McKinven and Bill Brown first engaged with the local arts scene over four decades ago when they started their impressive art collection. Their mutual passions for gardening, vegetarianism and staying active were extended to include collecting and showcasing a vast array of art by Ottawa-based artists that they called nothing short of ‘extraordinary’.

Their heritage apartment, that they have called home for 40 years, became filled with a personal collection so large that they donated numerous works to Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG), which cares for the University’s art collection—an important resource for research, teaching, learning and display. “We have always admired CUAG’s open access to students, with vaults readily available for learning opportunities,” says John.

John and Bill’s trust in CUAG gave a home to their vision of works being both cared for and made accessible, leading them to establish the McKinven/Brown Art Gallery Fund. This is a way for them to support CUAG’s goal to advance educational opportunities available to students through the visual arts. Although Bill and John did not graduate from Carleton, they were introduced to CUAG through friends in the local arts scene who raved about this gem in the St. Patrick’s Building, at the north end of campus. “The first time I walked into CUAG I was wowed. There really isn’t a more attractive gallery space in Ottawa,” says Bill.

Having followed the gallery’s development for decades, John and Bill were confident in supporting CUAG’s leadership as the gallery builds on its history of innovative and multi-disciplinary programming. It was the educational dimension of CUAG that became the catalyst that inspired them to make a gift in their will, with the hope that the Carleton and broader communities will continue to interact with art in meaningful ways for generations to come.

Carleton University Art Gallery is thankful to John and Bill for helping to bring people together through the visual arts well into the future, as their legacy gift will create new opportunities for knowledge sharing and community engagement.

“We are so grateful for this beautiful gift from John and Bill, who have long been passionate supporters of CUAG,” says Sandra Dyck—Director of CUAG. “It is an honour and pleasure to work with and learn from them, and to collaborate in bringing the campus and civic communities into direct and powerful encounter with the work of contemporary artists.”