As Canadas largest metropolis, Toronto is home to some of the highest end and most exciting recreational and shopping opportunities in the nation. In fact, when you visit the city, it seems as though you can never run out of things to do. One area in which Toronto can boast being unique in the nation is in the display of ceramic arts; the Gardiner Museum, located on Queens Park Drive, is the only museum in the nation of Canada dedicated to the display of ceramic arts.
The museum was conceived and built by Canadian philanthropists George and Helen Gardiner. The owner of a large Toronto stock brokerage firm (which he built himself), George and his wife Helen had long been interested in the art of ceramic. Their collection began in 1976, with a focus on aesthetically refined pieces from the Ancient Americas, 18th century Europe, and China. The Gardiners opened the museum in 1984, with the hope that it would contribute to the worldwide appreciation and understanding of the worlds oldest art form.
The Gardiners received the Order of Canada for their contributions in this and other areas. Prior to his death at age 80, George Gardiner donated a $15 million endowment, which allowed the museum to gain its independence from the Royal Ontario Museum. Using this new autonomy, the museum saw its attendance more than double, and was able to undergo extensive renovations in 2006.
The Gardiner Museum today
Today, the Gardiner Museum remains dedicated to the joy, wonder and passion of ceramic art. The museum itself includes several studios where artists can develop their craft, as well as the numerous displays put up every year. In addition, the Museum provides a base and funds for ongoing research into ceramic art and scholarships for those wishing to pursue a productive career on this creative path.
The Museum has a very impressive collection of pieces, with over 2900 in all. The ceramics on display and in the archives include works from the Gardiners original collection and their preferred origins as well as pieces from Japan, the Italian Renaissance, and a contemporary gallery.
Clay classes and displays of private collections are also held at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, further supporting this most ancient and widespread of art forms. If you are in the area, this unique Museum is definitely worth a look.