Art Gallery of Ontario Eyes Transformative $42 Million Expansion

February 2nd, 2022

The Art Gallery of Toronto (AGO) is planning a C$62 million (US$42.3 million) 55,000-square-foot expansion that includes a six-story glass tower dedicated to the display of contemporary and modern art. First reported in the Toronto Globe and Mail, the ambitious projected undertaking points to the central role contemporary art plays in luring larger, younger, and more diverse audiences.

The AGO, Canada’s second-most-visited arts institution after the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, is already one of the country’s largest museums. A 2008 Frank Gehry–led expansion added 97,000 square feet to its downtown facility; despite its already tremendous size, a new addition would likely aid in the storage and display of the roughly 20,000 works the museum has acquired in the past five years.

A request for proposals has been issued, with those competing urged to focus on a design incorporating “clean and simple finishes such as polished concrete floors, minimal walls, and modestly open ceilings” and on creating “highly flexible and well-proportioned spaces that can accommodate the media and materials artists are working in today and tomorrow.”

Described by Andrea-Jo Wilson, public relations manager of the AGO, as “in its infancy,” the expansion plan is part of the museum’s broader initiative “to lead global conversations from Toronto, through extraordinary collections, exhibitions and programs, by reflecting the people who live here.” As pointed out by Artnews, AGO has of late been increasing its focus on contemporary art, last year hiring Xiaoyu Weng away from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, to lead its modern and contemporary art department.