Toronto, ON

Tour the art—old, new and reimagined—of Toronto

Cosmopolitan allure—big city, bright lights—and culture make Toronto an art-lover’s go-to. Gaze at a Flemish Baroque painting or marvel at Indigenous street art, and see old architecture, like the 1892 Gooderham Building or Flatiron Building, contrast with the sweeps and angles of modern edifices, sometimes even morphing within one structure.

Like the Royal Ontario Museum, a cultural institution since 1914 with a world-class collection of 13 million art-works, cultural objects and natural history specimens—the most-visited museum in Canada. Its original Italianate/Neo-Romanesque building has been melded into the prism-like Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, a contemporary structure designed by Daniel Libeskind. Walk by in wonder. rom.on.ca

The 1892 Gooderham Building (Flatiron Building) (left); A contemporary structure designed by Daniel Libeskind (right). Photos by Dawson Lovell, Unplash; Tourism Toronto

Another reimagined space, including a glass-and-wood façade and show-stopping spiral staircase, is the Art Gallery of Ontario redesign by Canadian architect Frank Gehry. Here, you can see a collection that includes The Massacre of The Innocents (by that Flemish master, Peter Paul Rubens), alongside the Group of Seven. And, on now is an exhibition of striking black-and-white portraits by renowned American photographer Diane Arbus. ago.ca

Also revamped, the historic 1919 Tower Automotive Building in the city’s Lower Junction neighbourhood—once the tallest in Toronto and an aluminum factory that manufactured products for World War II— has become the Museum of Contemporary Art. The original structure is now a stripped-bare backdrop for modern-art exhibitions like the current interactive card-board installation by Carlos Bunga. moca.ca

The Art Gallery of Ontario redesigned by Canadian architect Frank Gehry (left); The Museum of Contemporary Art (right). Photos by Museum of Contemporary Art; Tourism Toronto

Yet another historic industrial site that’s been turned into gallery space is the Evergreen Brick Works. A former kiln building where bricks were made is now the TD Future Cities Centre, where immersive installations by a resident artist inspire visitors to ponder urban density, public space and diversity. evergreen.ca

Toronto artist, Indigenous muralist Philip Cote. Photo by Tourism Toronto

And throughout the city there’s the mix of old and new, with colourful street art on weathered walls in alleys or below once-gritty highway passes and subway bridges. In Underpass Park, designed by landscape architects to transform one such neglected space into a public park, local artist and architect Paul Raff’s “Mirage” is displayed on the actual underpass, its 57 octagonal stainless steel surfaces reflecting new life below. Another Toronto artist, Indigenous muralist Philip Cote, shares the oral traditions of storytelling in his public artwork—from a vibrant Anishinaabe woodland mural in the neighbourhood of Roncesvalles to a depiction of “All My Relations” in Allan Gardens, one of the oldest parks in Toronto.

It’s a big-city mash-up of art, industry, history, high-tech and creativity in the urban heart of Toronto.  — Barb Sligl

[MORE] Catch Hot Docs, the Canadian International Documentary Festival (the largest in North America) from April 30–May 10. hotdocs.ca

For info on Toronto: seetorontonow.com

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