Exclusive images document a remarkable new chapter in AGO’s 108-year history
“We’re not just opening doors, we’re opening minds”. It is with this forward thinking slogan that the Art Gallery of Ontario opened its doors after a remarkable transformation penned by Toronto- born Frank Gehry.
Launched in 2002, the transformation programme has included the major architectural extension by Gehry and the expansion of the permanent collection. As a consequence, the new AGO offers a 47 per cent increase in art viewing space welcoming visitors to 110 light-filled galleries featuring more than 4,000 new and perennial art works.
The building is surprisingly Gehry’s first commission in his native city and contains an interesting array of signature elements such as an iconic sculptural staircase emerging from Walker Court (the historic centre of the AGO), the sweeping glass-and-wood Galleria Italia extending an entire city block along Dundas Street, and the new contemporary tower with its vistas of Grange Park and of a Toronto Skyline never seen from this angle.
With this new museum extension, Frank Gehry has devised an unforgettable space to honour the art housed within. Attention to the core issue of the pleasure of art viewing is palpable throughout thanks to the amount of natural light and transparency that permeate the extension.
Happy to define his recent creation as “a real Frank Gehry building”, the architect nonetheless commented on the hard nature of remodelling an existing structure, as the gallery has since its opening in 1900 seen many extension with the latest designed by Barton Myers in 1993.