The Art Gallery of Ontario, located in downtown Toronto, is a world-class and family-friendly art gallery.
The Art Gallery of Ontario (“the AGO”) is located in downtown Toronto and is one of the largest art museums in North America. The AGO, which was founded in 1900, now has more than 80,000 works in its collection, including a large Canadian collection as well as many masterpieces of European art, contemporary art and photography. It’s a world-class art museum and it’s also one of the most family-friendly galleries we have visited.
Visitors to the gallery are greeted by Henry Moore’s bronze sculpture, Two Large Forms, which sits outside the entrance and is a popular place to take photographs, particularly with kids. Inside the gallery, there is more of the artist’s work on display in the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre. The AGO has one of the world’s largest collections of Moore’s work and much of it was donated by the artist himself.
Inside the gallery, visitors can choose from a number of interesting collections. Our favourites are:
The Canadian Collection: The AGO has a significant collection of work by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven – the landscape painters known for their distinctive paintings of the Canadian wilderness. The gallery is also well known for its collection of contemporary Inuit art as well as other First Nation artists. There are several paintings by Emily Carr who is one of Emma’s favourite artists as well.
The European Collection: The collection is comprised of Dutch paintings from the 1600s, Italian paintings and sculptures from the 1600s, and French Salon and Impressionist paintings from the 1800s. Emma and I are both big fans of impressionism so this is one of our favourite collections to visit.
The Modern and Contemporary Collection: The gallery includes the work of several European artists dating from 1900-1960 as well as American artists from 1945-1960. Some of the artists features include Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Raoul Dufy, Paul Gauguin, and Amedeo Modigliani. The contemporary collection comprises work in several forms of media including painting, sculpture, installation and photography.
As a major art gallery, the AGO plays host to a number of special exhibits. Visitors who happen to be in Toronto before August 26th this year will have the opportunity to view the special Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris exhibit that is on an international tour from the Musée National Picasso in Paris. This exhibit features works of art from Picasso’s private collection – the work that he selected himself to shape his artistic legacy. There is an additional fee required to see the exhibit and it is timed-entry in order to control crowd flow, however, once inside the exhibit space then visitors are free to spend as much time as they like.
We visited the exhibit earlier this summer and enjoyed it so much that Emma decided that Pablo Picasso was now one of her top 5 favourite artists. Large Still Life on a Pedestal Table was one of her favourite paintings so we had to purchase a small print to bring home.
One of the upcoming exhibitions that I am looking forward to is Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting which will run from October 20, 2012 to January 20, 2013.
Families at the AGO
The AGO is a family-friendly gallery that makes an exemplary effort to welcome families. The Weston Family Learning Centre is a hands-on learning space that includes the Dr. Mariano Elia Hands-On Centre which is an art-making and creative play area for the gallery’s youngest visitors and their adult friends. There are also a number of family-friendly activities in the gallery designed to engage children in the artwork. The activities range from activity bags, to drawing stations to trading cards.
The gallery’s programming for families includes art camps, courses and workshops and birthday parties. On the last Sunday of the month from October to March the AGO also holds Family Sundays with interactive activities for families with kids of all ages.
What You Need To Know
- The AGO is located at 317 Dundas Street West in Toronto and is accessible by both subway and streetcar. Paid parking is available nearby.
- Admission prices are available on the website.
- Entry to the permanent collections is free on Wednesday evenings from 6pm – 8:30pm.
- Regular hours are 10:00am to 5:30pm. The gallery is closed on Mondays and holidays.
- The Frank Gehry-designed restaurant, appropriately named Frank, offers contemporary comfort cuisine in a chic, modern setting. Café AGO offers family-friendly dining and snacks are also available at the Galleria Italia Espresso Bar.
- ShopAGO has unique art-related merchandise available for purchase and ShopAGO Kids on the lower level has a large selection of products designed to inspire imaginative play in kids under the age of 12.
- The gallery offers a variety of tours to visitors – information available here