AGO Inside: Walker Court


Friday Nights

The large interior space at the AGO, known as Walker Court, with its glass ceiling, spiral wooden staircase, large archways and a series of artworks mounted on the walls.
Robert Houle, Seven Grandfathers, 2014. Oil on canvas, digital prints, Mylar, watercolour on paper. Seven site-specific works, each 20.3 cm (diametre). © Robert Houle. Art Gallery of Ontario.

This is a line drawing of Walker Court, the heart and central meeting space of the AGO. Installed between the archways are artworks by artist Robert Houle, titled Seven Grandfathers, representing ceremonial drums that correspond to the seven traditional teachings in Anishinaabe culture. Each drum corresponds to an animal spirit and symbolizes one of the sacred teachings: the eagle means love; the beaver means wisdom; the wolf means humility; the buffalo means respect; the turtle means truth; the bear means courage, and a woodland transformational figure means honesty.


Things to do in Walker Court:

  • Pick your favourite drum and find the animal and teaching that goes with it.
  • Count the steps on the spiral staircase – go up, up, way up!
  • Describe what this stairwell looks like to you.
  • Take a selfie from a bird’s eye view at the very top!
  • Come back down, down, down to take a selfie with a worm’s eye view from the ground looking back up!
  • Pretend you’re a butterfly, a bee or a caped artist and twirl around, just like the stairwell.

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