The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO; French: Musée des beaux-arts de l'Ontario) is an art museum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The collection includes over 98,000 works spanning the first century to the present day.[4] The gallery has 45,000 square metres (480,000 sq ft) of physical space, making it one of the largest art museums in North America. The museum collection includes a number works from Canadian, First Nations, Inuit, African, European, and Oceanic artists. In addition to exhibits for its collection, the museum has organized and hosted a number of significant travelling arts exhibitions.

Art Gallery of Ontario
AGO at dusk.jpg
Dundas Street façade of the AGO
Art Gallery of Ontario is located in Toronto
Art Gallery of Ontario
Location of the gallery in Toronto
Established1900; 119 years ago (1900)
Location317 Dundas Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M5T 1G4
Coordinates43°39′14″N 79°23′34″W / 43.65389°N 79.39278°W / 43.65389; -79.39278Coordinates: 43°39′14″N 79°23′34″W / 43.65389°N 79.39278°W / 43.65389; -79.39278
TypeArt museum
Visitors974,736 (2018)
3rd most visited nationally
80th most visited globally[1]
DirectorStephan Jost[2]
PresidentRobert J. Harding[3]
CuratorJulian Cox
Public transit access

The institution was founded in 1900 as the Art Museum of Toronto, and was later renamed to the Art Gallery of Toronto in 1919. The art gallery adopted its current name, the Art Gallery of Ontario, in 1966. The museum saw several renovations and expansions of its building throughout the 20th century, including in 1918, 1924, and 1935. Since 1974, the gallery has undergone four major expansions and renovations, typically considered a high number and unseen by most galleries of the world, and continues to add spaces. These renovations occurred in 1974 and 1977 by John C. Parkin, and 1993 by Barton Myers and KPMB Architects.[5][6] From 2004 to 2008, the museum underwent another renovation by Frank Gehry.

In addition to display galleries, the structure houses a library and archive, student spaces, gallery workshop space, artist-in-residence office, a restaurant, café, espresso bar, research centre, theatre and lecture hall, gift shop, and an event space called Baillie Court, which occupies the entirety of the third floor of the south gallery block. It also contains the Dr. Mariano Elia Hands-On Centre, a play and art-making area for children. The gallery is located in the Downtown Grange Park district, on Dundas Street West between McCaul and Beverley Streets, between Chinatown and Little Japan.


A south view of the first gallery building in 1922

The museum was incorporated in 1900 as the Art Museum of Toronto by members of the Toronto Society of Arts.[7][8] The museum's incorporation was confirmed by the provincial government three years later by legislation,[8] An Act respecting the Art Museum of Toronto in 1903. The legislation provided the museum with expropriation powers in order to acquire land for the museum.[9]

The institution's founders included George A. Cox, Lady Eaton, Sir Joseph W. Flavelle, J. W. L. Forster, E. F. B. Johnston, Sir William Mackenzie, Hart A. Massey, Prof. James Mavor, F. Nicholls, Sir Edmund Osler, Sir Henry M. Pellatt, George Agnew Reid, Sir Byron Edmund Walker, Mrs. H. D. Warren, E.R. Wood, and Frank P. Wood.[10]

The museum moved to its present location in 1909,[11] when Harriet Boulton Smith[12] bequeathed her historic 1817 Georgian manor, the Grange, to the gallery upon her death. In 1911, the museum leased lands to the south of the manor to the City of Toronto in perpetuity so as to create Grange Park.[13] The museum held its first formal exhibition in 1913.

In 1916, the museum drafted plans to construct a small portion of a new gallery building designed by Darling and Pearson in the Beaux-Arts style. Excavation of the new facility began in 1916. The first galleries adjacent to the Grange were opened in 1918. In the next year, the museum was renamed the Art Gallery of Toronto, in an effort to avoid confusion with the Royal Ontario Museum.[14] In 1920, the museum also allowed the Ontario College of Art to construct a building on the grounds. The museum was expanded again in 1924, with the opening of the museum's sculpture court, its two adjacent galleries, and its main entrance on Dundas Street.[14] The museum was expanded again in 1935 with the construction of two additional galleries.[14]

View of Walker Court in 1929, several years after it opened.

In 1965, the museum saw its collection of European and Canadian artworks expand, with the acquisition of 340 works from the Canadian National Exhibition.[15] In 1966, the museum changed its name to the Art Gallery of Ontario, in order to reflect its new mandate to serve as the province's art gallery.[16]

In 1974, the museum expanded its gallery space when it opened the Moore Centre.[14] The museum was expanded again in 1993, creating 9,290.3 square metres (100,000 sq ft) of new space and 17,651.6 square metres (190,000 sq ft) of renovations—usable space, increasing the preexisting floorspace by 30 per cent. The expansion saw the renovation of 20 galleries, and the construction of 30 galleries.[17]

Following its 1993 renovations, the museum's public relations staff raised concerns over the use of the moniker "A-G-O," with potential concerns that visitors may potentially confuse the acronym of the museum with the word ago.[18] Concerns were also raised about the use of Ontario in the name, and the potential loss in marketability in contrast to using Toronto in the name.[18] The museum's public relations briefly considered adopting the term The Gallery as a new alternate name, although these plans were eventually dropped.[18]

Under the direction of its CEO Matthew Teitelbaum, the museum embarked on a C$254 million (later increased to C$276 million) redevelopment plan by architect Frank Gehry in 2004, called Transformation AGO. The project initially drew some criticism. As an expansion, rather than a new creation, concerns were raised that the structure would not look like a Gehry signature building,[19] and that the opportunity to build an entirely new gallery, perhaps on Toronto's waterfront, was being squandered. During the course of the redevelopment planning, board member and patron Joey Tanenbaum temporarily resigned his position over concerns about donor recognition, design issues surrounding the new building, as well as the cost of the project. The public rift was subsequently healed.[20]

Kenneth Thomson was a major benefactor of Transformation AGO, donating much of his art collection to the gallery (providing large contributions to the European and Canadian collections), in addition to providing $50 million towards the renovation, as well as a $20 million endowment.[21] Thomson died in 2006, two years before the project was complete.

In 2018, the museum formally changed the name of Emily Carr's The Indian Church painting to Church at Yuquot Village in an effort to remove culturally insensitive language from the title of works in its collection.[22] A note next to the painting provides the original name of the piece, and explains Carr's use of the term was with keeping in "the language of her era".[22] The museum has also reviewed the titles of several other works on a case-by-case basis, as items from the Canadian collection are rotated from its exhibit, or from its storage.[23]

Selected exhibitions since 1994Edit

Advertisement for King Tut: The Golden King and the Great Pharohs exhibition hosted at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2009


The Grange, with subsequent additions to the building erected to the north, northeast, and west of the structure.

The oldest portion of the museum's complex is the Grange, a manor built in 1817, and bequeathed by the art gallery in 1909. Shortly after acquiring the building, the museum embarked on its first expansion, led by architectural firm Darling and Pearson.[24] Given the building's location, and historic value, expansion plans for the building were limited to its south; as the museum wanted to preserve the building's Georgian facade, as well as the municipal park south of the building.[24]

The expanded plan featured 30 viewing halls, all of which would surround one of three open courtyards, an English garden, an Italian garden, and a sculpture courtyard.[24] The design was largely modelled after another building designed by Darling and Pearson, the Royal Ontario Museum.[24] The designs by Darling and Pearson were intended to be implemented in three phases, although the plans for the final design phase were abandoned in the mid-20th century.[24] The first phase of the Darling and Pearson plan was opened in 1918, a wing with three galleries adjacent to the Grange.[24]

The second phase of the design was opened in 1926. It included half of the sculpture court (later named Walker Court) to the north of the 1918 wing, two additional galleries flanking the sculpture court, and an entrance to the north.[24] The exterior facade of the 1926 expansion was only made of bricks and stucco. No serious designs were planned for the exterior facade of the 1926 expansion, as the museum envisioned that the exterior facade would eventually be enclosed in stone by future expansions.[25] Further expansions to the east and the west of the building was completed in 1935.[25] However, as the third phase of expansion was never embarked on, the "temporary facade" to the north remained the same until the early 1990s.[25]

Western facade from Beverley and Dundas Street. The western portion of the building opened in 1977.

Another series of expansion was undertaken by the museum during the 1970s, as a part of a new three phased expansion plan; with its first two phases designed by John C. Parkin.[25] The first phase of the expansion was completed in 1974, which saw the restoration of the Grange, and the opening of the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre. The second phase saw the opening of several new galleries adjacent to Beverley Street in 1977.[25] The third phase of expansion planned by the museum was delayed until August 1986, when it announced a competition for Ontario-based architects to design the museum's southwest, and northern extension on Dundas Street to cover the "temporary facade".[25] A seven-member panel eventually selected a design by Barton Myers.[26] The architectural firm KPMB Architects was contracted to complete the expansion, which opened in 1993.[25]

During the 1990s, the museum drafted plans that would have saw the development of a pedestrian mall from University Avenue to the art gallery.[26] However, conflicting developments on adjacent properties, lack of support from the City of Toronto government, and the eventual development of another renovation plan by Frank Gehry saw the museum's plans for a pedestrian mall abandoned in the early 2000.[26]

2004–2008 redevelopmentEdit

From 2004 to 2008, the museum's building underwent a C$276 million redevelopment, led by architect Frank Gehry. Although Gehry was born in Toronto, and grew up in the same neighbourhood the art gallery was situated in, the redevelopment of the museum complex would be his first work in Canada. Gehry was commissioned to expand and revitalize the museum, not to design a new building; as such, one of the challenges he faced was to unite the disparate areas of the building that had become "a bit of a hodgepodge" after six previous expansions dating back to the 1920s.[27] The redevelopment plans was the first design by Gehry to not feature a highly contorted structural steel frame for the building's support system.[28]

Interior of the protruding staircase from the top
Titanium and glass southern facade
The South Gallery block built during 2004–08 redevelopment of the museum

The exterior fronting on Dundas Street was changed as a part of the redevelopment; with the front entrance moved to the north, aligning with Walker Court, and the installation of a 200 metres (660 ft) glass and wood projecting canopy known as the "Galleria Italia".[29] The roof of Walker's Court was also redeveloped, with steel truss girders installed, and glued laminated timber used to support the glass panelled roof, which provides 325 square metres (3,500 sq ft) of skylight for the courtyard. The southern portion of the museum building also saw redevelopment, with the construction of a five-storey South Gallery block, and a protruding spiral staircase that connects the fourth and fifth levels of the block.[29] The exterior facade of the South Gallery Block includes glass and custom made titanium panels, and like the Dundas Street fronting, is supported by glued laminated timber.[29] The new addition required the demolition of the postmodernist wing by Myers and KPMB Architects.

Wood was used extensively during the redevelopment, with woodwork needing to be done for the museum's hardwood floor, information kiosk, ticket booth, security booth, and the stairs inside the building, including a spiral staircase in Walker Court.[29] The facings of the booths, staircases, and the hardwood floor are made of Douglas fir trees.[30]

The redeveloped building opened in November 2008, with the transformation project having increased the art viewing space by 47 per cent, and the total floor area by 20 per cent.[28]

Galleria ItaliaEdit

The Galleria Italia is a 200 metres (660 ft) glass, steel, and wood projecting canopy at the fronting of Dundas Street, also acting as a viewing hall on the second level of the building. The galleria was named in recognition of a $13 million contribution by 26 Italian-Canadian families of Toronto, a funding consortium led by Tony Gagliano, a past President of the museum's Board of Trustees.

Both ends of the glass and wood canopy extend pass the building forming "tears", providing the appearance that the building's facade has been pulled off the building. The Galleria Italia is made out of 200 metres (660 ft) glued laminated timber and glass gallery space which sites atop the Dundas Street walkway.[29] Approximately 1,800 glued laminated timber pieces were used on the facade of the Galleria Italia; and 2,500 timber connectors.[31]

Interior and exterior of the Galleria Italia. Glued laminated timber makes up a significant portion of the galleria.

The galleria is composed of two layers, with the inner layer formed by 47 vertical radial arches, each of which increases in spacing between one another as it approaches the main entrance.[31] The radials provide lateral support against the wind for the outer layer, a glued laminated timber mullion grid, as it transfers the weight to the floor. Both of these sit on a steel frame, which supports the galleria.[31] The mullion grid itself is attached to a sliding bearings, that allows its curtain wall to adjust to changes in temperature, without compromising the integrity of the wood.[31] Most of the timber was made of Douglas fir trees, from a manufactuer based in Penticton, British Columbia.[32] Each piece of timber is unique, given that the galleria's design featured slants that increased in width incrementally, and whose curvatures were changing throughout its length.[33]

The galleria uses 128 steel horizontal beams to prevent the radials from contorting.[33] Given that the museum is typically maintained at 50 per cent relative humidity, the steel used to support the glued laminated timber required a galvanized finish in order to prevent corrosion.[28]


Walker Court after the 2004 to 2008 redevelopment. Walkways and staircases were "threaded" throughout the original courtyard.

The completed expansion received wide acclaim, notably for the restraint of its design. An editorial in The Globe and Mail called it a "restrained masterpiece", noting: "The proof of Mr. Gehry's genius lies in his deft adaptation to unusual circumstances. By his standards, it was to be done on the cheap, for a mere $276-million. The museum's administrators and neighbours were adamant that the architect, who is used to being handed whole city blocks for over-the-top titanium confections, produce a lower-key design, sensitive to its context and the gallery's long history."[34] The Toronto Star called it "the easiest, most effortless and relaxed architectural masterpiece this city has seen",[35] with The Washington Post commenting: "Gehry's real accomplishment in Toronto is the reprogramming of a complicated amalgam of old spaces. That's not sexy, like titanium curves, but it's essential to the project."[19] The architecture critic of The New York Times wrote: "Rather than a tumultuous creation, this may be one of Mr. Gehry's most gentle and self-possessed designs. It is not a perfect building, yet its billowing glass facade, which evokes a crystal ship drifting through the city, is a masterly example of how to breathe life into a staid old structure. And its interiors underscore one of the most underrated dimensions of Mr. Gehry's immense talent: a supple feel for context and an ability to balance exuberance with delicious moments of restraint. Instead of tearing apart the old museum, Mr. Gehry carefully threaded new ramps, walkways and stairs through the original."[36]

2010s renovationsEdit

The Weston Family Learning Centre opened in October 2011. The 3,252 square metres (35,000 sq ft) space is an exploration art centre, featuring a hands-on centre centre for children, a youth centre, and a art workshop and studio.[37] Several months later, in April 2012, the museum opened the David Milne Research Centre, which was designed by KPMB Architects.[38][5][6] The cost to build the David Milne Study Centre cost the museum approximately C$1 million.[39]

The South Entrance and lounge outside the library, opened in July 2017.[40] The renovated and renamed J. S. McLean Centre for Indigenous & Canadian Art[41] opened in July 2018.

Permanent collectionEdit

Snuff bottles from the museum's Kenneth Thomson collection

As of March 2018, the Art Gallery of Ontario's permanent collection holds over 98,000 pieces,[4] representing many artistic movements and eras of art history. Until the early 1980s, works collected for the museum's collection was primarily Canadian or European artists.[42] Its collection has since expanded to include artworks from the Indigenous peoples in Canada, and other cultures from around the world.

The museum's African collection includes 95 artworks, most of which originate from 19th century Sahara.[43] These pieces were bequeathed to the Art Gallery of Ontario by Murray Frum, and are exhibited at a permanent gallery on the second floor of the museum.[43] The museum also has a number of Ethiopian Christian manuscripts and artworks, although these works form a part Thomson Collection of boxwoods and ivories.[44]

In 2002, the museum was bequeathed 1,000 works by Aboriginal Australian, and Torres Strait Islanders artists.[45] Some of these items are exhibited at a gallery on the second floor of the museum. In 2004, Kenneth Thomson donated over 2,000 works from his personal collection to the museum.[46] Although the majority of the Thomson collection consist of works by Canadian or European artists, the collection also includes works created by artists in other parts of the world.

Canadian and indigenousEdit

The museum includes an extensive collection of Canadian art, from pre-Confederation to the 1990s.[47] Most of the museum's Canadian art is exhibited on the second floor, with 39 viewing halls dedicated to exhibiting 1,447 pieces from the museum's Canadian collection.[48] The wing includes the 23 viewing halls of the Thomson Collection of Canadian Art, and the 14 viewing halls of J.S. Mclean Centre for Indigenous & Canadian Art.[49] Canadian works are also exhibited in the David Milne Centre, and the visible storage area in the museum's concourse.

Mail Boat Landing at Quebec by Cornelius Krieghoff. It is one of 145 works by Krieghoff in the Thomson Collection of Canadian Art.

The galleries of the Thomson Collection of Canadian Art provide an in-depth look at the works of individual artists, whereas the other viewing halls of organized around later thematic issues.[49] The Thomson Collection was donated to the museum by Kenneth Thompson in January 2004.[50] The collections features nearly 650 paintings and works by Canadian artists; 250 of which were created by Tom Thomson;[50] 145 works from Cornelius Krieghoff;[46] 168 works from David Milne,[39] and others from the Group of Seven. Nearly two-thirds of the collection were re-framed in preparation for their installation into the viewing halls.[50]

In addition to the Thomson Collection of Canadian Art, works by David Milne are also housed in the David Milne Study Centre.[39] The centre was opened in 2012, and feature computer terminals linked to thet Milne Digital Archives, and televisions which play films on Milne's life.[39] The centre houses works and 230 other artifacts belonging to Milne, including diaries, journal, and paint boxes. Most of the artifacts belonging to Milne were acquired the museum in 2009 from Milne's son.[39]

The J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous & Canadian Art exhibits 132 from Canadian and indigenous artists.[51] Approximately 40 per cent of works presented in the centre were created by Indigenous artists.[51] The McLean Centre for Indigenous and Canadian Art is 1,200 square metres (13,000 sq ft),[52] with 14 viewing halls.[49] Three of these galleries are dedicated to exhibiting Inuit art, whereas one is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary First Nations art.[52]

Works in the Mclean Centre are organized around larger thematic issues relating to Canadian history, as opposed to chronologically.[49][53] As a result, works from indigenous and Canadian artists are presented together to showcase the reciprocal influences and conflict between the two.[51] An example of such thematic presentation is evident in how the museum exhibits Tom Thomson's The West Wind. When the painting was presented in the centre, it was presented with a Anishinaabe pouches adjacent to it, showcasing how two peoples viewed northern Ontario at that time.[54] Text that accompany works in the centre are presented in three languages, English, French, and either Anishinaabemowin or Inuktitut.[51] The walls along the primary entry point into the McLean Centre is marked by small projectile points from arrows, spears, and knives from 9,000 BCE to 1,000 CE. The projectiles are a part of an art installation, as opposed to an ethnographic or archaeological display.[55]

The West Wind by Tom Thomson. The Canadian collection includes a number of works by Thomson.

Landscape paintings from Canadian artists were among the first paintings to be acquired for the museum's collection.[15] The museum's Canadian collection has works from a number of Canadian artists, including Jack Bush, Paul-Émile Borduas, Kazuo Nakamura, and other members of the Group of Seven.[47] The museum has more than 300 works by David Milne; 168 of which were bequeathed to the museum as a part of the Thomson Collection of Canadian Art.[39] The museum also has nearly 150 works from A. Y. Jackson, although the majority of it is placed in storage.[56] The collection also features works from Canadian sculptors Frances Loring, and Florence Wyle.[47]

The museum also has a large collection Inuit artworks. The 1970s saw the first Inuit artwork added to the museum's collection; with the Art Gallery of Ontario acquiring the Sarick Collection, the Issacs Reference Collection, and the Klamer Collection during the 1970s and early 1980s.[15] In 1988, the museum formed the Inuit Collections Committee in order to maintain and grow the collection.[15] The collection includes 2,800 sculptures, 1,300 prints, 700 drawings and wall hangings from Inuit artists.[45] 500 of these works are exhibited at the Inuit Visible Storage Gallery,[57] opened in 2013.[58]

Conversely, the museum did not acquire its first First Nations artwork until 1979, acquiring a piece by Norval Morrisseau for its contemporary collection.[15] The Art Gallery of Ontario did not acquire First Nations art until the late-1970s, in an effort to not overlap the coverage of its collection with the Royal Ontario Museum, which already had a collection of First Nations art.[15] The early 21st century saw the museum increase the representation of First Nations art in its Canadian-centred galleries, including the R. Samuel McLaughlin Gallery.[59] First Nations artists whose works are featured in the museum's collection includes Charles Edenshaw, and Shelley Niro.[45]


Hallway in the Vivian & David Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art, situated within the south gallery block

The museum's contemporary art collection contains works from international artists from the 1960s to present, and Canadians from the 1990s to present.[60] The collection also extends to installations, photography, graphic art (such as concert, film, and historic posters), film and video art. Works from these collections are exhibited in several centres and galleries throughout the museum, including the Vivian & David Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art which comprise the upper three levels of the south gallery block, and the Galleria Italia.

The museum's contemporary collection includes a number of works by Canadian artists, General Idea, Brian Jungen, Liz Magor, Michael Snow, and Jeff Wall.[60] The museum's contemporary collection also has works by international artists in the Arte Povera, conceptualism minimalism, neo-expressionism, pop art, and postminimalism movements.[60] Artists from these movements whose works are included in the museum's collection includes Jim Dine, Donald Judd, Mona Hatoum, Pierre Huyghe, John McCracken, Claes Oldenburg, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Andy Warhol, and Lawrence Weiner.[60]

The museum also features a permanent exhibition of Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror Room – Let's Survive Forever in one of the viewing halls of the Signy Eaton Gallery.[61] The permanent Infinity Room was purchased in 2018 for C$2 million, after the success of a larger multi-room Kusama and Infinity Mirror Room travelling exhibit held in the same year. The permanent Infinity Room was opened in May 2019.[61]


Viewing hall in the Tannenbaum Centre for European Art.

The museum has a large collection of European art ranging from 1000 CE to 1900 CE,[62] Items from the museum's European collection are exhibited in several viewing halls throughout the museum. The Tannenbaum Centre for European Art and its viewing halls are located on the ground floor. Paintings and sculptures from the Thomson Collection of European Art are exhibited on the ground floor, while the ship models from the Thomson collection are exhibited in the museum's concourse.

The European Collection includes the Margaret and Ian Ross Collection, which features a number of bronze sculptures and medals, with a particular emphasis on Baroque art from Italy.[62] The museum's collection of European paintings and sculptures was further bolstered in January 2004, after the museum was bequeathed Thomson Collection of European Art.[50] The Thomson Collection of European Art includes over 900 objects, including 130 ship models.[46]

Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens. The work is a part of the Thomson Collection for European Art.

Thomson Collection of European Art includes the world's largest holding of the Gothic boxwood miniatures, featuring 10 carved beads and two altarpieces.[63][64] Other works featured in the Thomoson Collection for European Art includes Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens.[65] The painting was acquired by Ken Thomson in 2002 for C$115 million, intending for the work to serve as the centerpiece for the collections he bequeathed to the museum in 2004.[65] When the museum reopened in 2008, the painting was installed in a blood-red, low-lit room in the Thomson Collection for European Art.[65] The room featured no other paintings, with the only lighting in the room directed towards the work.[65] The painting remained at that location until 2017 when it was placed in a gallery with other works from the European collection.[65]

The museum's European collection also includes major works by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Giovanni del Biondo, Edgar Degas, Thomas Gainsborough, Paul Gaugin, Frans Hals, Claude Monet, Angelo Piò, Nino Pisano, Rembrandt, Auguste Rodin, and James Tissot.[62]


Sculptures from the modern collection at the Joey & Toby Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium

The museum's modern art collection includes works from Americans, and Europeans from the 1900s to the 1960s,[66] Works by Canadian artists during this time period are typically exhibited as a part of its Canadian collection, as opposed to the museum's modern art collection. Works from the modern art collection are exhibited in several centres and galleries throughout the museum, including the Joey & Toby Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium, the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre, and several other galleries on the ground floor of the museum.

The Henry Moore Sculpture Centre houses the largest public collection of works by Henry Moore.[67] Moore served as the Sculpture Centre's benefactor, donating almost his whole personal collection to the museum in 1974.[66] Moore's bronze work, Two Large Forms (1966–1969) originally greeted visitors at the museum's north façade at the intersection of Dundas and McCaul streets. However, Two Large Forms was later relocated to the nearby Grange Park in mid-2017 to the south as part of the park's renovation.

The museum's modern collection also includes works by Pierre Bonnard, Constantin Brancusi, Marc Chagall, Otto Dix, Jean Dubuffet, Jacob Epstein, Helen Frankenthaler, Alberto Giacometti, Natalia Goncharova, Arshile Gorky, Barbara Hepworth, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger, Joan Miró, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Ben Nicholson, Pablo Picasso, Gino Severini, and Yves Tanguy.[66]

Panorama of the Henry Moore Sculpture Court


The Art Gallery of Ontario also has a photography collection of 70,000 photographs dating from the 1840s to present day.[68] The photograph collection includes 495 photo albums from the First World War.[68] Items from this collection are exhibited in two viewing halls on the ground floor. The museum's photography collection includes photographs taken by Diane Arbus, Edward Burtynsky, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Robert Flaherty, Suzy Lake, Arnold Newman, Henryk Ross, Josef Sudek, Linnaeus Tripe, and Garry Winogrand.[68]

In 2017, the museum acquired 522 photographs by Diane Arbus, providing the museum the largest collection of Arbus's photographs outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[69] In June 2019, the museum its acquisition of the Montgomery Collection of Caribbean Photos, which includes 3,500 historic photographs of the Caribbean from the 1840s to 1940s.[70] The collection was acquired by the museum for $300,000, most if which was funded by 27 donors from Toronto's Caribbean community.[70] The Montgomery Collection is the largest collection of its kind outside the Caribbean.[70]

Prints and drawingsEdit

Young Country Gil Dancing by François Boucher. The work is a part of the museum's prints and drawings collection.

The museum's prints and drawings collection includes more than 20,000 prints, drawings, and other works on paper, from the 1400s to the present day. This collection usually is displayed little at a time with revolving exhibitions. However, the collection is viewable by appointment at the museum's Marvin Gelber Print and Drawing Study Centre.[71]

The collection includes the largest and most significant body of works from the late Montreal artist Betty Goodwin, with a bulk of the works given to the gallery by the artist.[72] The prints and drawings collection also includes drawings by David Blackwood, François Boucher, John Constable, Greg Curnoe, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Thomas Gainsborough, Paul Gauguin, Vasily Kandinsky, Michelangelo, David Milne, Pablo Picasso, Egon Schiele, Michael Snow, Walter Trier, Vincent van Gogh, and Frederick Varley; and prints by Ernst Barlach, James Gillray, Francisco Goya, Käthe Kollwitz, Henry Moore, Robert Motherwell, Rembrandt, Thomas Rowlandson, Stanley Spencer, James Tissot, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and James McNeill Whistler.[71]

Library and archivesEdit

The Art Gallery of Ontario houses one of Canada's principal art libraries, the Edward P. Taylor Library & Archives. The library and archives[73] are open to the public and require no entrance fee. However, access to the museum's archives, and its special collections are available by appointment.[74] The library also serves as the adjunct art history library for OCAD University.


The general collections of the library reflect the permanent collection of works of art and the public programs of the Art Gallery of Ontario, containing over 300,000 volumes for general art information and academic research in the history of art.[74] The library serves as a reference library; materials in the collections do not circulate. Holdings encompass western art in all media from the medieval period to the 21st century; the art of Canada's indigenous peoples including Inuit art; and African and Oceanian art.

Work tables at the Edward P. Taylor Library & Archives, the art gallery's library and archives

The library additionally comprises Canadian, American and European art journals and newspapers; over 50,000 art sales and auction catalogues (late 18th century to current); 40,000 documentation files on Canadian art and artists, and international contemporary artists; and multimedia, digital and microform collections. Materials may be searched on the online catalogue.[75] The Library & Archives also produces pathfinders and bibliographies for collections research, such as the Thomson Collection Resource Guide to the large collection of works of art donated by benefactor and collector Kenneth Thomson.[76]

The library's rare books collection includes art historical source books from the 17th century to the present; British Neoclassical folios of the 18th century; catalogues raisonnés; British and Canadian illustrated books and magazines; travel guides, particularly Baedekers, Murrays, and Blue Guides; French art sales catalogues from the late 18th century to the mid-20th century; and artists' books.


The museum's archives document the history of the Gallery since 1900, and of The Grange house since 1820. Series include exhibition files, publicity scrapbooks (documenting Gallery exhibitions and all other activity), architectural plans, photographs, records of the Gallery School, and correspondence (with art dealers, artists, collectors, and scholars). Because of the regularity with which artists' groups held exhibitions at the Gallery, the archives are a resource for research into the activities of the Group of Seven, the Canadian Group of Painters, the Ontario Society of Artists, and others.

The Art Gallery of Ontario's special collections are one of the most important concentrations of archival material on the visual arts in Canada. In over 150 individual fonds and collections, ranging in date from the early 19th century to the present day, the Special Collections document with primary source material artists, art dealers and collectors, artist-run galleries, and other people and organizations that have shaped the Canadian art world.[77]



The museum maintains a artist-in-residence program, allowing working artists to complete eight-week residencies at the gallery.[78][79] The program, the first of its kind at a major Canadian art gallery, grants each artist access to the museum's facilities, a stipend covering materials and living costs, and a dedicated studio, the Anne Lind AiR Studio in the Weston Family Learning Centre.[80][81] Artists-in-residence are invited to create new work and ideas, and to use all media, including painting, drawing, photography, film, video, installation, architecture and sound.[82]

Past artists-in-residences include:

Online presenceEdit

Interesting Story by Laura Muntz Lyall. The work is one of a 166 pieces from the museum's collection available for viewing on Google Arts & Culture.

In keeping with web 2.0 trends, the museum launched a social media website called Collection X, together with the Virtual Museum of Canada, which provided users with a space to share ideas about life and art. Collection X showcased the work of contemporary photographers and visual artists and gave users the ability to discuss the works, create online exhibitions and upload their own content. It also contained images of historic value to the museum, such as photographs and former logos, as well as works from the collection.

The Art Gallery of Ontario is also the first Canadian museum included in the Google Arts & Culture, where 166 pieces from the permanent collection are available for viewing, including works from Paul Gauguin, Bernini, Tom Thomson, Emily Carr, Anthony von Dyck, and Gerhard Richter. Currently, there is no "street view" option to tour the museum online.[92][93]

The museum has also established a web presence on a variety of social media platforms. In the past, this included a Tumblr account that posted one piece of art everyday, part of the museum's ongoing effort to digitize the permanent collection.

Selected worksEdit

Canadian collectionEdit

European collectionEdit

Modern and contemporary collectionsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The Art Gallery of Ontario renamed the painting to Church at Yuquot Village in 2018. The painting was originally titled Indian Village.


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Further readingEdit

  • McMaster, Gerald (2009). "Art History Through the Lens of the Present?". Journal of Museum Education. 34 (3): 215–222.
  • Nakamura, Naohiro (2012). "The representation of First Nations art at the Art Gallery of Ontario". International Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue internationale d’études canadiennes. 45–46: 417–440.
  • Osbaldeston, Mark (2011). Unbuilt Toronto 2: More of the City That Might Have Been. Dundurn. ISBN 1-4597-0093-7.

External linksEdit