Development policy

Strategic development of the AFA Art Collection considers the following priorities:

  • investing in a collection that reflects the excellence of Alberta artists
  • safeguarding the AFA's collection by prioritizing sustainability
  • supporting and encouraging programming that makes the AFA's collection accessible

The AFA Board of Directors is ultimately responsible for the AFA Art Collection and, through the Executive Director, ensures that collection management policies, guidelines, procedures and standards are developed and implemented.

Building the collection

Deciding which artworks to add to the collection requires serious consideration because of the responsibility to care, store, exhibit, document and preserve them indefinitely.

Formal principles and policies guide staff and ensure the highest standards of accountability, professionalism and public trust.

Collection development plan

This is a five-year plan that carries out the AFA’s mandate to build a legacy collection of Alberta art for the people of the province. It guides the rationale for all proposed acquisitions and leads staff in a coordinated and uniform direction over time to refine and expand the value of the AFA Art Collection in a determined way.

We review and update the Collection Development Plan at least once every five years: a process led by the Manager, Art Collections under the direction of the AFA Board Art Collection Committee.

Download the most recent plan (2020-2025 AFA Collection Development Plan PDF).

The AFA has completed its review of the Public Art Commission program (as described in the above plan) and has permanently discontinued this program. Existing commissions will remain in the care of the AFA in perpetuity on behalf of the people of Alberta.

  • the AFA will consider how it may support development of public art separately from the AFA Art Collection in future years
  • please contact us if you have questions about the review of this program

Curatorial plans

AFA collection curiatorial plans are flexible, short-term action plans that specifically identify AFA acquisition priorities and how we will allocate funding accordingly.

We create an updated curatorial plan every year that describes artwork mediums, communities and artists to prioritize for purchase. This is an internal document and follows the direction outlined in the Collection Development plan.


All potential acquisitions are evaluated against criteria outlined in our development policies, which leads our staff in a coordinated and uniform direction over time to refine and expand the value of the collection in a determined way.  

Browse different ways we acquire new works for the AFA Art Collection.

Care and management of the collection

The AFA has a duty of care to ensure that the collection is cared for so that artwork remains in optimal condition in perpetuity. We must maintain a balance between providing access and ensuring preservation of our collected artworks. 

The AFA Collection Management Policy is a practical guide that describes what decisions must be made, who is responsible for making them and how they are made.

This clear policy framework is based on the professional standards of organizations such as the International Council of Museums, the Canadian Museums Association and the Alberta Museums Association.

Download the policy (PDF).

Deaccession and disposition

Strengthening a collection may occasionally involve disposing of artworks that no longer meet the collecting criteria. 

Because artworks are held in the public trust, there can be strong reluctance to remove them from our collection. However, there are circumstances when removing an artwork can strengthen the collection or is necessary because of poor condition or other factors.

The AFA Collection Management Policy describes in detail the necessary conditions required to justify deaccessioning artwork from the AFA Art Collection. It also provides staff with a set of ethical guidelines to follow when removing items from the public trust. 

After deaccessioning, artworks are typically removed by:

  • disposition by exchange or transfer
  • disposition by sale
  • disposition by intentional discard

If reimbursed for deaccessioned artwork, the policy also outlines proper use of funds.

Collection use and access

The AFA Collection Management Policy also provides guidelines on how it is used to achieve a balance between use and preservation.

The AFA believes that ensuring public access to our artwork and other collection material will add to the depth of knowledge surrounding the collection, and allow more people to participate in a dialogue about visual arts in Alberta and across the country.

The primary ways we share our collection are through:

We also provide opportunities for public viewing of the collection through in-person tours of our collection vault and special one-off curated exhibitions for Alberta Culture Days and Doors Open Edmonton. 

If you would like to request a viewing in Edmonton of an artwork in our collection, please contact us at 780-427-9968 (toll-free within Alberta by first dialing 310-0000).