The Photography Collection

ABOUT THE COLLECTION

The Art Gallery of Ontario is dedicated to building a collection of photographs that reflects the artistic, historical, and social impact of the medium. With over 70,000 objects, the collection spans the history of photography from the 1840s to the present day.

Along with key works by renowned figures in the field, the holdings also include in-depth collections of work by such artists as Linnaeus Tripe, Robert Flaherty, Josef Sudek, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Henryk Ross, Arnold Newman, Diane Arbus, Michel Lambeth, Garry Winogrand, Suzy Lake, and Edward Burtynsky.

The collection also includes significant holdings of press photographs, pop photographica, and photographic albums that highlight the key roles photographs have played in our visual culture to relay events, act as keepsakes, and create visual narratives. Notable among these holdings are the group of 495 albums from the World War I era, assembled by soldiers, nurses and survivors, and the Casa Susanna collection, snapshots of cross dressers in the 1950s and 1960s.

The photography gallery rotates every four months to feature the evolution of the medium and its diverse uses through the strengths of the collection.


COLLECTION RESOURCES

E.P. Taylor Library & Archives

The E.P. Taylor Library & Archives is open to the public Tuesday to Saturday. Access to the Archives and Special Collections is by appointment. Book collections are searchable through our online catalogue. Special collections holdings may be browsed online using our alphabetical list.

Marvin Gelber Print & Drawing Study Centre

This state-of-the-art facility is open to the pubic and dedicated to the study of prints, drawings and photographs. It houses a collection of over 70,000 works which date from the 13th century to the present day. Find out more about the AGO's prints and drawings collection.

Image Licensing

Find the image you need from the Art Gallery of Ontario, one of the most distinguished art museums in North America. AGO Images licenses to scholarly and commercial clients worldwide. Be inspired by Tom Thomson, James Tissot, Kennth Noland, Walter Trier and many more amazing artists.

Requests for Loans

The Art Gallery of Ontario is committed to broadening access to its collections and supporting educational initiatives that promote a new understanding of art, through a program of outgoing loans. 

Conservation at the AGO

Conservation is the care and protection of cultural objects. As the caretakers of collections, conservators examine, research, clean and repair artworks, while also taking action to prevent future deterioration. Here at the AGO, the Conservation Team includes conservators, mat makers, framers and mount makers. These specialists work together to ensure each work will look its best not only for today, but also for generations to come.

Provenance Research Project

The AGO is committed to investigating the provenance of works in its permanent collection, particularly as it pertains the ownership history of European painting and sculpture during the 1933–45 period. The purpose of this is to increase awareness and understanding of the spoliation of works of art by the Nazis and others.

The AGO's Deaccessioning Policy

The Art Gallery of Ontario cares for its collections according to the highest standards. Its resources should only be devoted to works of art that serve its mission and are worthy of such care. This occasionally demands that works be judiciously and carefully deaccessioned from the collections. The proceeds from this are reinvested in new works of art.

Artefacts Canada

Thanks to the important contribution of this country's heritage institutions, the Artefacts Canada database contains close to 4 million object records and approximately 800,000 images from Canadian museums.

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