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Staff Picks: 10 Popular Public Art Galleries

The Art Gallery of Ontario features works by Michael Snow and many, many other artists

Become a part of Toronto’s hot art and culture scene by exploring these public art galleries, which are home to timeless masterpieces, contemporary creations, travelling exhibitions and everything in between.

Art Gallery of Ontario
One of the largest art museums in North America, the AGO’s stunning architecture (by Frank Gehry) is instantly recognizable. Its collection is composed of more than 80,000 works spanning from 100 A.D. to the present, with permanent displays and featured exhibition covering many of the most intriguing artists and artistic movements from Canadian and around the world. 317 Dundas St. W., 416-979-6648.

Harbourfront Centre
Widely known for producing an assortment of events, concerts and festivals, Harbourfront Centre is also a hub for the visual arts. Numerous exhibitions (many featuring up-and-coming Canadian artists) are held concurrently the York Quay Gallery, while The Power Plant is a major space for the display of cutting-edge works by top international creators.
A variety of interpretative tools help to provide visitors with an even more engaging experience. 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000.

Interaccess Electronic Media Arts Centre
In indie art space devoted completely to electronics-influenced works—initiatives involving the interface of the physical and the virtual. Exhibitions, workshops and discussions further develop this line of artistic inquiry, from initial ideas through to construction, implementation and interactive display. 9 Ossington Ave. 416-532-0597.

John B. Aird Gallery
Commonly referred to as “the Aird,” this stately gallery exists within one of the Queen’s Park heritage buildings that house Ontario’s government and public service. Artist groups such as the Sculptors Society of Canada, Ontario Society of Artists and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts regularly host exhibitions here. 900 Bay St., 416-928-6772.

McMichael Canadian Art Collection
North of Toronto, the McMichael offers a truly Canadian experience with more than 6,000 works by important Canadian artists, including many pieces by the Group of Seven, First Nations and Inuit artists, and others who have contributed to the country’s cultural heritage. 10365 Islington Ave., 905-893-1121.

Mercer Union
In addition to its extensive displays of groundbreaking modern works, this artist-run gallery is a community builder offering lectures, screenings, performances, publications, events and other special projects to engage and educate. 1286 Bloor St. W., 416-536-1519.

The Japan Foundation
A truly borderless experience, this centre seeks to foster international cultural exchange by bringing unique aspects of Japanese culture to Toronto. In addition to oft-changing art exhibitions, the Foundation hosts film screenings, and offers a public-lending library and Japanese language instruction, among other things. 131 Bloor St. W., 416-966-1600.

Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art
An anchor of Toronto’s art- and design-crazy West Queen West neighbourhood, the dynamic MOCCA exhibits and promotes innovative contemporary art by Canadian and international creators whose works reflect challenges and issues affecting the world today. 952 Queen St. W., 416-395-0067.

Onsite [at] OCAD University
Operated by one of North America’s top art and design institutions, this gallery emphasizes exhibitions and events that contribute to cultural exchange and vitality, with works by innovative artists and design pioneers from Canada and abroad. 230 Richmond St., 416-977-6000

University of Toronto
The beautiful University of Toronto Art Centre (15 King’s College Cir., 416-978-1838) lies at the heart of the school’s stately campus and displays art across a range of media and time periods, complemented by tours and lectures. For a more modern viewing experience, the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (7 Hart House Cir., 416-978-8398) is just a short stroll away.

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