Transformation AGO: Project Fact Sheet

The Transformation AGO project built on Ken Thomson’s unprecedented gift of art and funding, the commitment of many other generous donors, the vital support of the provincial and federal governments and an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry.

When it opened in November 2008, the transformed AGO revealed a brand new space that integrated ground-breaking ideas about the many ways that art and people can connect for powerful experiences. As one of the most distinguished art museums in North America, the transformed AGO has set the highest standards for accessibility to all facets of the artistic experience by providing unparalleled access to art display, programming, conservation, storage, creation and research. Visible walkways, extensive use of glass, and views of the city and Grange Park connect the city to the activity of the Gallery. The transformed AGO welcomes visitors to gather together in an inspiring and innovative space, inviting the creation of community through art.

The architectural expansion enlarged the AGO by 97,000 square feet and increased art-viewing space by 47 per cent.

Total Project Cost:

  • $276 million

New Art: Thousands of Works Added to the AGO's Collection

  1. The Thomson Collection of signature works by Canadian artists such as Paul Kane, Tom Thomson, Cornelius Krieghoff and Lawren Harris
  2. Murray Frum’s spectacular gift of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s magnificent sculpture, Corpus
  3. The establishment of the David Milne Study Centre
  4. The Thomson Collection of European art featuring medieval, Renaissance and Baroque sacred and secular works, as well as an extraordinary collection of 18th and 19th century European portrait sculpture. Other highlights include Peter Paul Rubens’s recently rediscovered early 17th-century masterpiece, The Massacre of the Innocents
  5. Donations of landmark collections of photography
  6. Recent acquisitions of outstanding collections of historical African and Australian Aboriginal art
  7. The Fick-Eggert Archive of more than 300 works on paper and documents from the circle of early 20th century artists who comprised the avant-garde Cologne Dada group

New Building: Highlights of Frank Gehry's Re-Design of the AGO

  1. The new Dundas Street entrance aligned with Walker Court, the historic heart of the AGO, and The Grange, the Gallery’s first home
  2. The elegantly designed glass-and-wood façade that spans 600 feet along Dundas Street – from McCaul Street to Beverley Street – and rises 70 feet above street level. 
  3. The creation of Galleria Italia - the sculpture gallery that extends 450 feet along the north side of the building
  4. The creation of ShopAGO, FRANK restaurant, the AGO café, the Jackman Hall lecture theatre, the Norma Ridley members’ lounge and the Young Gallery, a free space for new contemporary arts projects 
  5. The tinted titanium-and-glass four-storey south wing overlooking Grange Park, which houses the AGO’s centre for contemporary art and Baillie Court, one of the most beautiful event spaces in the city featuring floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of downtown 
  6. Extensive glazing on both the north and south façades, allowing visitors to experience the surrounding cityscape from the Gallery interior
  7. The iconic Baroque staircase that soars from the second floor of the Gallery and links Walker Court to the new Vivian and David Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art and Baillie Court
  8. The integration of natural light throughout the building, including the glass roof over Walker Court and the light-filled walkway around the Gallery’s upper perimeter

New Ideas: Bringing Vision to Life

  1. New transparency to art museum practices and operations that are traditionally behind-the-scenes, including visible art storage displays and conservation activities, as well as other forms of insight into the educational and research roles of the museum
  2. Newly designed educational programming for all ages featured throughout the galleries
  3. Innovative displays of works of art with dynamic links to the Gallery’s extensive collection of artists’ archives. 
  4. Destination hubs for each collecting area that orient visitors through interactive media, art-making activities, feedback stations and discussion forums.  

Building Facts

Overall Scale and Dimensions

  1. Overall building size increased by 20 per cent
  2. 190,000 net square feet of total renovated space
  3. 97,000 square feet newly built space
  4. Dundas Street façade spans 600 feet (the length of two football fields) and rises 70 feet above street level
  5. South elevation rises 140 feet from Grange Park and frames the AGO’s historic house, The Grange

Gallery Spaces

  1. Art viewing space increased by 47 per cent; total gallery space 129,000 net square feet
  2. Canadian galleries increased by 164 per cent
  3. Contemporary galleries increased by 40 per cent
  4. European galleries increased by 76 per cent
  5. Photography galleries increased by 242 per cent
  6. Prints and Drawings galleries increased by 241 per cent
  7. Free Contemporary Art Space, 700 square feet

Other Spaces

  1. Baillie Court: 7,000 square feet
  2. FRANK Restaurant: 3,091 square feet
  3. ShopAGO: 7,525 square feet on 2 levels
  4. Norma Ridley Members’ Lounge: 1,006 square feet
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