Art Gallery of Ontario
Explore the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto’s premier art gallery. As one of the largest in North America, the gallery has over 95,000 pieces of art in its collection. Ranging from classical to present day, featuring artists from around the world to Canadian and Indigenous artists, you are sure to spend the better part of the day in awe of the wealth of creativity on display.
The impressive 45,000 square metres of gallery space showcases its permanent exhibits as well as temporary and travelling exhibits. You can always expect to see something new or discover a new artist with each visit. It’s a great place to spend the day getting culturally enriched. You can grab a bite to eat, do some shopping and spend hours forgetting about time. It’s also a great choice for cold and rainy days — once you step inside, you’ll forget all about any dreary weather.
Located at 317 Dundas St W, just north of Old Town Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario, or ‘AGO’ as it’s commonly called, is easily accessible via the city’s subway and streetcar networks. If driving, you’ll need to find paid street parking as there is no dedicated parking on the premises of the museum.
For up-to-date information, such as operating hours, admission details, and current exhibits on the Art Gallery of Ontario, we recommend you visit their website. For information about other places of interest to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see what Destination Ontario recommends.
More about Art Gallery of Ontario
The Art Gallery of Ontario is fully accessible, and families can enjoy the day with the museum’s many hands-on activities designed especially for kids. It has been attracting around 1 million visitors annually.
Founded in 1900 as the Art Museum of Toronto, the museum took on its current name in 1966. From its inception, the Art Gallery of Ontario has focused on bringing people together through art. And, for visitors to gain a new perspective of seeing the world through the use of art. Through the decades, the museum has undergone multiple renovations and expansions. Most notably was the renovation by world renowned (and Toronto born) architect, Frank Gehry. So, not only can you expect to see incredible pieces of art, but you’ll also be impressed by the rich architectural design of the building itself. Within the galleries of the Art Gallery of Ontario, you have a wealth of art and styles to appreciate. A large collection of European masters, spanning from 1000 to 1900, includes works by Nino Pisano, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Thomas Gainsborough, Auguste Rodin as well as a beautiful collection of Impressionist paintings that include works from Monet, Degas, Tissot and Gaugin.
The Modern Collection features an extensive collection of American and European artists from 1900 to the 1960s. The progression of modern art is on full display as you take in work from Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Jacob Epstein, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Bonnard, Otto Dix, Franz Kline, Frank Stella, Henry Moore, and Andy Warhol. And from modern, the Art Gallery of Ontario moves to Contemporary Art with a collection that includes installations, paintings, sculptures, photography, performance and sound art.
And the museum takes pride in its large collection of Canadian art. Though the gallery focuses on artists from Toronto and Ontario, work from artists from all parts of Canada are showcased. The Canadian art dates back to the earliest days of Canada to modern times. The Art Gallery of Ontario has an impressive collection of works by Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven as well as emerging artists. In fact, the AGO was the venue for the Group of Seven’s very first exhibition in 1920. Additionally, the museum is tirelessly working to develop its offering of Indigenous art. Representing the First Peoples of North America, art on display is primarily from the Inuit, Metis and First Nations. But the museum also houses the largest collection of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists in Canada.
As with any visit to a world class museum, you may need to stop and refuel so you can continue to enjoy the incredible art. And luckily, the Art Gallery of Ontario has several eateries on the premises. On the second floor, there is the Espresso Bar in the Galleria Italia. Offering finely brewed espressos and tasty morsels, you can savor the flavors while enjoying views of Toronto from the massive windows. For a complete meal with eye-popping visuals, enjoy a bite at Café AGO on the concourse level. In addition to a full lunch meal, small snacks are also available.
But the AGO Bistro is worth a visit in its own right. This sumptuous two-story restaurant was also designed by architect, Frank Gehry. It’s a tall order for the menu to live up to the breathtaking design of the restaurant, but the food is just as outstanding. Highlighting seasonal ingredients that are locally sourced, diners can enjoy a fixed menu or a la carte options.
To further enhance your visit, be sure to stop at the shopAGO before leaving the museum. In the shop, you will find a bit of everything, including clothing, sculptures, home décor, jewellery, art books, prints, dishware and toys. All proceeds from the shop go directly back into the Art Gallery of Ontario as well as aid support of culture throughout Canada.