Founded in 1900 by a group of private citizens as the Art Museum of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest art museums in North America, with over 90,000 works in its collection and a physical facility of 583,000 square feet. More than 4,000 works from the collection are on public view.
The AGO's collection spans from 100 A.D. to the present and is focused on the following areas:
The Canadian collection vividly documents the development of the nation's art heritage since pre-Confederation, including one of the largest and finest Inuit art collections in the world. The collection includes pivotal works by Cornelius Krieghoff, Lucius O'Brien, James Wilson Morrice, Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven, David Milne, Emily Carr, Paul-Emile Borduas, Joyce Wieland and Kenojuak Ashevak.
Masterpieces of European art include works by renowned artists such as Anthony van Dyck, Thomas Gainsborough, Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and René Magritte.
The Thomson Collection at the AGO includes a broad range of works, from European to Canadian art, ship models and decorative arts. Its European collection includes 900 works from the 12th to the 19th century, featuring Peter Paul Rubens' 17th-century masterpiece, The Massacre of the Innocents. The Canadian collection includes signature works by Cornelius Krieghoff, Paul Kane, Lawren Harris, and Paul-Emile Borduas. The Thomson Collection of ship models features pieces from the Napoleonic era to the 19th century, and the decorative arts collection includes more than 500 objects of international significance, including the 12th-century Malmesbury Chasse.
The AGO maintains a comprehensive collection of Contemporary art spanning from 1960 to the present, reflecting global developments in artistic practice across all media, including painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, projection art and installation art. The collection is defined by strong holdings of leading Canadian artists such as David Altmejd, Brian Jungen, Jeff Wall, Shirley Wiitasalo and punctuated with major works by international artists such as Mona Hatoum, Gerhard Richter, Doris Salcedo, Tino Sehgal, Cindy Sherman, Richard Serra, Kara Walker and Andy Warhol.
Artists represented in career-spanning depth include Iain Baxter& / N.E. Thing Co, David Blackwood, Jack Bush, Paterson Ewen, Betty Goodwin, General Idea, Robert Motherwell, Kazuo Nakamura, Greg Curnoe and Michael Snow.
The AGO houses the world's largest public collection of works by internationally renowned British sculptor Henry Moore.
A collection of more than 40,000 photographs represents the emergence of the medium in all its artistic, cultural and social diversity. The collection includes Wworks by 19th-century British, French, American and Canadian photographers, and 20th-century modernists, including a significant group of 1850s prints by British photographer Linnaeus Tripe, one of the foremost collections of works by Czech photographer Josef Sudek, and more than 18,000 press photographs from the Klinsky Press Agency taken in the 1930s and 40s.
The AGO's collection of African art is not only the largest of its kind in a Canadian art museum, but also one of the most prestigious collections of African art in Canada. This collection of 95 artworks spans several centuries and is acutely focused on sculptural and figural works from west and central Africa. Pieces in the collection are made with an array of materials that are reflective of the sculptural traditions in their respective areas, including beeswax, copper alloys, glass beads, iron, ivory, soapstone and wood.
As one of Canada’s most distinguished art museums, the AGO organizes and hosts a wide spectrum of major exhibitions. Over the years, the AGO has presented:
- The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris, 2016
- Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s-1980s, 2016
- J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free, 2015
- Landscape Painting in the Americas, 2015
- From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia, 2015
- Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now's the Time, 2015
- Alex Colville, 2014
- Michelangelo: Quest for Genius, 2014
- David Bowie Is, 2013
- Ai Weiwei: According to What?, 2013
- Picasso: Masterpieces from Musée National Picasso, Paris, 2012
- Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde: Masterpieces from the Collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2011
- Abstract Expressionist New York: Masterpieces from the Museum of Modern Art, 2011
- Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts, 2010
- Julian Schnabel: Art and Film, 2010
- King Tut: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs, 2009
Annual operating revenues
- $71.83 M in 2014/15
- 33% government funding (federal, provincial, municipal)
- 28% self-generated (admissions, retail, food & beverage)
- 27% private sector support (memberships, donations, sponsorships)
- 12% amortization of deferred capital contribution
Total visits in 2014/15: 789,121
- 56% Toronto
- 12% Ontario
- 11% GTA
- 8% International
- 7% Canada
- 6% U.S.
1911 - Acquired The Grange building and property through a private bequest
1918 - Opened first paintings galleries, with a connecting link to The Grange (Darling and Pearson Architects)
1926 - Opened Walker Court, three flanking galleries and an entrance on Dundas Street (Darling and Pearson Architects)
1935 - Two additional galleries built (Darling, Pearson & Cleveland Architects)
1974 - Expansion by John C. Parkin, Parkin Partnership, Architects and Planners (Stage I: Zacks Pavilion, Henry Moore Sculpture Centre)
1977 - Expansion by John C. Parkin, Parkin Partnership, Architects and Planners (Stage II: Canadian Wing)
1993 - Expansion by Barton Myers/KPMB Architects (Stage III: Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium; Marvin Gelber Print and Drawing Study Centre)
2002 - AGO announces Transformation AGO project – Gehry International Architects
2005 - Construction commences on the Transformation AGO expansion project, designed by Gehry International Architects, Inc.
2008 - The transformed AGO opens to the public on November 14.
2010 - Construction commences on the new Weston Family Learning Centre, designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects.
2011 - A public celebration in October 2011 officially marked the launch of the new Weston Family Learning Centre.
2014 - AGO announces donor and architect for Grange Park revitalization project.
2017 - A community celebration is held in July 2017 to mark the opening of the park.