One of my must see places whenever I am in Toronto is the Art Gallery of Ontario or AGO. I have my favourite paintings I always go to see: most of them are usually in Room 125 of the European Collection (e.g. The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, La demoiselle de magasin by James Tissot and August Rodin’s Adam) although Peter Paul Rubens’s Massacre of the Innocents is in Room 112. If you like Henry Moore the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre is on the second floor in Rooms 250-1. The Group of Seven exhibit is another set of galleries I often tour. Sometimes I have been able to take in a highlight tour where a volunteer provides an introduction to the gallery. I have never had two tours from the same volunteer so each tour is an opportunity to see something different. One year they were preparing an exhibit from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia but it was not open yet. I was leaving town the next day and asked if I could see it. I guess it never hurts to ask because the staff graciously let me in to see the exhibit.
On my last visit some of my favourites had been temporarily moved as part of the “Art as Therapy” exhibit which is on view until April 2015. The exhibit is spread out across three floors (1,2 and 5) and depicts two guest curator’s (British philosophers Alain de Botton and John Armstrong) views of Art as Therapy according to the themes of love, sex, politics, money and nature. My favourite was nature which is found on the fifth floor. I found the pieces of art very much reflect the healing and calming qualities of nature as therapy.
The AGO underwent extensive renovations a few years ago and one of the new elements of Frank Gehry’s design is the staircase in Walker Court. It is an engineering feat as is the staircase on the south side of the building which, as you climb to the higher levels, provides some impressive views of the city. Another addition is the Galleria Italia and Espresso Bar overlooking Dundas Street West which displays Contemporary Art.
The AGO is closed Mondays and open from 10:00 am-5:30pm except for Wednesdays when it is open until 8:30 pm. General admission for an adult is $19.50 with special exhibits extra.