…the iconic CN Tower notwithstanding, Toronto is often maligned by even its own residents as the lesser of the two in comparison to Montreal. Perhaps it has leveled the playing field a tad, however, in its sibling rivalry. Its Art Gallery of Ontario, also known as AGO, a not-so-subtle irony pointed out by the city’s naysayers, has transformed itself with a number of renovations, the most recent of which was overseen by non other than Frank Gehry himself. The famed architect lent his material-bending design skills, his first for his home town of Toronto, and created the spiral staircase in the Gallery’s Walker Court.
Located on the Grange Park District, the gallery, or Musée des beaux-arts de l’Ontario, is one of the largest in North America with noteworthy collections that include African, Canadian, European and Renaissance art; drawings; the graphic arts and photography; prints; and sculptures. It also has a cafe, library, lecture hall, requisite restaurant, and theatre hall.
As impressive as that it, the Gallery makes a statement on the outside, before you even enter its exhibition spaces. Its facade on Dundas Street, for example, won praise for restraint, subtlety, and gossamer-like presence. The blue titanium exterior on the facade facing Grange Park, however, is bold with the inclusion of stairwell looking like its punched its way through the material.