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People outside the Art Gallery of Ontario

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In the Spotlight: Art Gallery of Ontario

Explore the works of celebrated artists like Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama and others.

Outside the Art Gallery of Ontario at night
The Art Gallery of Ontario is one of North America's largest museums

Nestled in Toronto’s downtown core on bustling Dundas Street West, the Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas St. W.) is a haven for local artists and an inspiring go-to for pop culture enthusiasts. Explore the works of celebrated artists like Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama and more.

Founded in 1900, the museum’s collection spans from 100 A.D. up to present-day and exhibits creative expression in all forms, from music to film, graphic art to experiential media, and more. Past exhibitions have showcased the works of David Bowie, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Stanley Kubrick and the famous synesthetic artist Kusama. 

Find out what’s currently on at the AGO with the purchase of tickets, which give you access to the museum’s five levels. If you are part of the 25-and-under crowd, you get access to the museum for free. 

Places to eat in the Art Gallery of Ontario

With a restaurant, café and bar, there’s no shortage of places to dine while you’re visiting the Art Gallery of Ontario.

AGO Bistro

AGO Bistro serves up award-winning dining with takeout options as well. The restaurant offers a fine dining experience with Canadian fare that’ll match your mood after viewing the AGO’s incredible worldly artwork.

Galleria Italia Espresso Bar

Indulge in a coffee break at the beautiful Galleria Italia section of the AGO. Sit back at the Espresso Bar and enjoy the gorgeous, airy setting while sipping hand-crafted espresso.

Café AGO

If you’re craving a quick and casual bite, Café AGO offers refreshments and local eats in a comfortable space. Have your little ones with you? Kids under five eat for free.

Things to see at the AGO

Yayoi Kusama’s mirrored installation, “Let’s Survive Forever,” is one of the museum’s most famous exhibits. As is always true of her work, the vibrant installation encourages viewers to have a personal, shareable experience with the piece. You could spend all day just at Kusama’s exhibit—but there’s so much more to see at the AGO!

Nature and creative inspiration collide at the Michael Belmore exhibition. Where one may see a piece of wood or a boulder, this Anishinaabe descendant and sculptor sees art. The exhibit features pieces created with materials that come from the artist’s natural surroundings.

With collections by the likes of Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso, as well as exhibits about cultural icons like Studio 54, there’s no shortage of modern art at the AGO in Toronto. In addition to popular (and very Instagrammable) exhibits, the AGO brims with cultural collections that showcase portraits, installations, sculptures and artifacts from around the world.

Browse Canadian, Indigenous, European, modern, contemporary and African art. Notable artists include Rodin, Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, and Warhol, to name a few. The Indigenous collection happens to be the largest in the world, while the African collection is the largest in Canada.

Don’t miss the Thomson collection, the most significant private art collection in the country. It features 2,000 outstanding works gifted to the AGO by collector Ken Thomson. The collection displays Canadian art from the 19th century to mid-20th century, including pieces from the famous Group of Seven.

Browse the entirety of the AGO’s acquisitions along with collections dedicated solely to photography and drawings, as well as a library that holds up to 380,000 volumes.

You can also enjoy the AGO at home, with tons of kid-friendly online exhibits. The AGO also offers plenty of online courses for children and teens. For the more mature art lovers, the AGO’s online events include art-related performances, digital tours and discussions in collaboration with industry experts, local curators and researchers. Online courses for adults are available as well.

Plan your next fam jam at the AGO. Fan your creative flames with collaborative projects, storytelling, and playing around in costumes at the Hands-On Centre. Materials are included so you can simply show up with your kiddos and start making art.

Mindful Makers is yet another fun-filled program, located in the Weston Family Learning Centre. Kids can feed their creative impulses by building, creating, and indulging their imaginations. This event is facilitated by Toronto artist and muralist, Cindy Scaife. Have you ever explored a museum in total darkness? Family Flashlight Tours allow families to browse Thomson Collection’s ship models up close with a flashlight.

If you’re curious about an artist’s creative process, the AGO’s artist-in-residence program allows visitors insider access into the world of notable creators. Selected artists work within a dedicated space, at which point they receive institutional support and access to materials. Past artists of the program include Ness Lee, Haegue Yang, and Alicia Nauta, among others.

Satisfy your curiosity of print, drawing and photographic arts at the Marvin Gelber Print and Drawing Study Centre. Open-door evenings grant visitors viewings of the AGO’s top-notch print room.

Become an AGO member for unlimited admission to the gallery and other exclusive benefits. Frequent visitors are encouraged to purchase the Annual Pass.

The spiral staircase in the Art Gallery of Ontario was designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry
The iconic spiral staircase in the AGO was designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry

Fun facts about the Art Gallery of Ontario

  • The Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the biggest museums in North America
  • The AGO has the most works by British sculptor Henry Moore in the world
  • The AGO has the largest African art collection in Canada
  • The AGO revitalizes Grange Park, reopening the community space in the summer of 2017

How to get to the AGO Toronto

From the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW): Take the Gardiner Expressway to Spadina Avenue. Continue north on Spadina to Dundas Street West and turn right. Continue on Dundas until Beverley Street.

From the 401: Exit at Avenue Road South and continue until Dundas Street West. Turn right on Dundas and continue until McCaul Street.

Parking: The AGO doesn’t provide parking but there are many parking lots nearby.

By TTC: St. Patrick Station (on the Yonge-University Subway Line) or the 505 Dundas streetcar.

By GO Transit: Transfer at Union Station and take the Yonge-University Subway Line to St. Patrick Station.

By UP Express: Transfer at Union Station and take the Yonge-University Subway Line to St. Patrick Station.

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