Bursting with creative hubs, the city is blessed with opportunity for emerging and established painters, sculptures, photographers, mixed media artists and performers of every kind. Get to know some of the top art destinations in this Toronto art gallery guide.
One of largest galleries in North America, the AGO is home to nearly 95,000 works — some of which date back to the first century. The museum has seen four major expansions since 1970s, including the 2008 renovation designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. His celebrated Dundas Street Façade is now an art destination in itself.
The AGO is unquestionably one of the best art galleries in Toronto with an impressive permanent collection that includes baroque works by Rubens and Rembrandt and 19th-century pieces by Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin. The J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous and Canadian Art is a fascinating exploration of indigenous Canadian culture and a must-see for Canadian art enthusiasts. Child-friendly activities on Sundays make the AGO a great family outing. It is also the first Canadian museum included in the Google Art Project, with 166 pieces from the permanent collection available for online viewing.
A passion project launched by two Toronto art lovers, Scrap Metal Gallery is a gem. The industrial-style facility has been delighting audiences since 2011 with its carefully curated exhibition program. Showcasing emerging and established artists, the gallery’s curators collaborate with a number of other Toronto cultural organizations including the Toronto International Film Festival and the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival. Its Muscled Rose exhibition in the summer of 2019, curated by Rui Mateus Amaral, drew much critical acclaim.
As the name suggests, this destination for art exhibitions in Toronto is housed in an old power house at Harbourfront Centre. With its expansive views of Lake Ontario, a visit to the gallery, devoted exclusively to contemporary visual arts, is a can’t-miss stop in one of the city’s most-visited tourist districts.
The gallery has no permanent collection, preferring innovative temporary exhibitions by diverse Canadian and international artists such as the upcoming solo presentation by Rasheed Johnson.
Since moving to its new home in the Junction Triangle last year, MOCA has turned the neighbourhood into a top contemporary arts destination. The five-floor, 55,000 square foot venue in a former sheet-casting factory hosts thought-provoking exhibitions that are a true reflection of the times we live in, such as the Age Of You (until January 2020). While you’re there, be sure to check out Forno Cultura for authentic Italian pastries and excellent coffee.
This non-profit, artist-centred collective has hosted new and experimental work since 1979. Featuring five exhibitions per year over its 40-year history, the gallery is dedicated to helping artists realize ambitious and pivotal projects. “The Union” also hosts artists’ talks, workshops, seminars, and off-site public projects such as SPACE, a series of commissioned public billboards.
This community cultural hub is part of the revitalization of Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood that began in the mid-2000s. A joint venture between Artscape, Toronto Community Housing, The Daniels Corporation and the Regent Park Community, the facility is home to a variety of art spaces, including Aki Studio – Native Earth Performing Arts and the Hallway Galleries, that feature art exhibitions throughout the year.
This restored historic warehouse at 401 Richmond Street is a hub for contemporary art in Canada. If you’re hoping to hit a few art shows in Toronto, 401 Richmond is your one-stop shop. Home to over 140 artists, cultural producers, social innovators, galleries and shops, as well as a regular host of Nuit Blanche installations, the building is a haven for artists and art-lovers alike. Don’t miss A Space Gallery, The Tell, or Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography.