Visit 5 Toronto cultural hotspots where you can experience extraordinary visual and performance art by First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists. 

Written and researched by Clayton Windatt, Tara Nolan, Jennifer Krissilas and Yuki Hayashi

Indigenous art occupies a vital position within Canadian art. Indigenous people consist of diverse cultural groups, with strong identities within each First Nations, Métis and Inuit community, band and tribe—which extend into artists’ creative output.

Understanding the cultural context in which Indigenous art was produced will help you appreciate the artist and their work more deeply.

Whether you’re looking to visit an art gallery, catch a show or stretch your legs while viewing outdoor art, here are five ways to discover Indigenous art in Toronto.

Explore Indigenous art at the AGO

The J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous + Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) features essential work from the permanent collection of one of Canada’s leading galleries. Curation focuses on focusing on Indigenous artworks and ideas as a key starting point for telling stories from contemporary perspectives of Canada.

In addition, the AGO’s Indigenous Collection includes work by leading artists, such as groundbreaking Ojibway visual artists Norval Morrisseau and Carl Beam.

Morrisseau pioneered the circa-1960s Woodland School of brightly coloured, stylized, symbolic art with thick lines connecting people, places and creatures together, while Beam examined themes of identity, colonization and resistance through a variety of media, including etchings, photography and collage.

The AGO is also home to more than 5,000 Inuit sculptures, prints and drawings, including Manasie Akpaliapik’s whalebone, ivory, stone, antler, baleen and horn sculpture, “Respecting the Circle,” which is one of the gallery’s most popular works on display.

Exhibitions showcasing Inuit artists Lucy Qinnuayuak (opening October 9, 2024) and Kenojuak Ashevak (opening February 15, 2025) will launch later in the season.

Take a deeper dive at the McMichael

Just north of the city, Kleinburg’s McMichael Canadian Art Collection (McMichael), showcases work by the most influential modern and contemporary Indigenous artists, including—among others—Morrisseau and Beam, alongside Inuk artist Annie Pootoogook.

Known for her ink and coloured pencil drawings, Pootoogook portrayed life in her Northern community of Cape Dorset, Nunavut (known as Kinngait in Inuktitut).

Her representations explore personal experiences, such as a woman experiencing domestic violence, and everyday occurrences, such as children watching television. Pootoogook’s work mixes humour and blunt representations of the disparities found in Indigenous life, making these scenes of “normal” life a point of confrontation.

Pootoogook’s work has been included in prestigious international group exhibitions, like Germany’s Documenta, and the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada.

The McMichael’s Inuit Art collection focuses on contemporary work, including a comprehensive collection of 100,000 drawings, prints and sculptures on long-term loan from Cape Dorset’s historic West Baffin Eskimo Co-Operative Limited artist group.

Stroll around a 50-tonne Inukshuk

The Inukshuk is a sculptural figure that serves as a multifaceted guide to the Inuit, both practically and symbolically. The Waterfront area’s Toronto Inukshuk Park features a 50-tonne mountain rose granite version created by globally acclaimed artist Kellypalik Qimirpik, also of Cape Dorset.

Plan a scenic stroll (or an invigorating run along the Toronto Waterfront) to check out this iconic sight looming next to the Lake Ontario shoreline. One of North America’s largest Inukshuks, it stands about 9 m (30 ft) tall and has an arm span of 4.5 m (15 ft). 

Catch a film screening

Launched in 2000, the imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival (June 3–8, 2025) is the world’s largest presenter of Indigenous screen content, showcasing national and global Indigenous-made film, video, audio and digital media each fall. 

The Toronto International Film Festival (September 5–15, 2024) and year-round TIFF Bell Lightbox cinema both include Indigenous content in their regular lineups and special programming. 

Dive into theatre and performance art

The oldest professional Indigenous theatre company in Canada, Native Earth Performing Arts has been presenting theatre, dance and multidisciplinary programming for nearly four decades. The organization is dedicated to presenting the artistic expression of the Indigenous experience in Canada. 

If the stars align, check out the one-night-only 2-Spirit Cabaret, 8th Edition (June 13, 2024), a collaboration with the 2SLGBTQ+ focused Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, featuring a variety of performances by Indigiqueer artists.