Art Gallery of Ontario

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Things to do


Date of travel

August, 2015

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On your own

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When I am in Toronto the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is a must visit for me (see my post on The Art Gallery of Ontario). This year I saw an exhibit of landscape paintings from the Arctic to Argentina called “Picturing the Americas.” Although there were obvious differences in the terrain, there were also similarities. At the beginning of the exhibit you see three short videos of different people’s perspectives of the exhibit – a curator, a cultural historian and a native artist. Essentially the message was that the paintings reflect the arrival of the white men to the Americas, a land they viewed as savage and untouched by civilization, yet there were ancient civilizations living there long before Europeans arrived. One similarity pointed out in the paintings is that of a sugarloaf or cone feature in the landscape: one in Quebec in the form of ice in Montmorency Falls and one in Brazil in a geological formation similar to a loaf of sugar exported to Europe. The exhibit is on until September 20. It cost $25 for entry to the exhibit and the rest of the gallery and your timed-ticket for the exhibit gives you an hour in which to see the exhibit.

I also went on a highlight tour at noon. I have my favourite paintings I always gravitate towards such as those in the French Salon, so going on a tour forces me to see other items that I would otherwise not see. The tours are provided by volunteers and usually take an hour though ours stretched out another 20 minutes. This time I saw an interesting installation in the contemporary gallery of totem poles made of golf bags. It was amazing how much they really looked like totem poles. The artist, Brian Jungen, was making a statement about the use of native lands as play areas for the white people who took over the native lands. Another contemporary gallery we visited on the tour that I do not often visit is the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre where there is a large collection of his work and reference to one of his pieces on display outside Toronto City Hall.

Another gallery that always amazes me is the Thomson Gallery on the ground floor as it contains artifacts and paintings that belonged to one man, Kenneth Thomson who donated them all to the AGO, a collection worth millions of dollars. One painting alone, considered the jewel of the AGO, is the Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens which the guide said was worth $100 million.

Attached to the AGO is the Grange and I remember many years ago when the Grange used to be open to the public as an historic house. It is a pity that visitors from outside the city do not get to see it now as it is only open to members of the AGO. However, Grange Park behind the AGO is open to the public and a nice spot to step outside for a picnic if you plan a day here.

The adult general admission is $19.50 and seniors discount is $16.00.

“Art Gallery of Ontario”:

Denise Bridge

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