The African Collection


The Art Gallery of Ontario’s African art collection contains work created by many different cultures and people from south of the Sahara Desert in Africa during the 1800s and 1900s. These pieces were collected over several decades by Dr. Murray Frum whose vision and passion built one of the world’s most significant private collections of African art. The collection is strengthened by significant artworks, including a helmet mask by the Bembe peoples, a guardian figure reliquary by the Kota peoples, and the large-free standing male figure made by the Bamileke peoples.

Many of these 95 works are interpretations of the human form, encompassing universal themes such as birth, survival, death, and regeneration. Some pieces are used to highlight power and leadership, while others help individuals communicate with the spirit world.


Bamum peoples
possibly early 1900s


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.

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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