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Art Gallery of Ontario

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African and Oceanic


A small number of galleries are temporarily closed as we reinstall the AGO Collection. Please check the main Look:Forward page for more information and updates about specific galleries.

African Collection

The AGO’s collection of African art is not only the largest of its kind in a Canadian art museum, but also one of the most prestigious collections of African art in Canada. It is almost entirely the result of Dr. Murray Frum’s generous gifts to the Gallery since 1997, and serves to further enrich and expand the fabric of the Gallery’s collection of art outside the European tradition.

This collection of 95 artworks spans several centuries and is acutely focused on sculptural and figural works from west and central Africa, and are made with an array of materials that are reflective of the sculptural traditions in their respective areas, including beeswax, copper alloys, glass beads, iron, ivory, soapstone and wood. The types of works also vary, from masks and reliquaries to large free-standing sculptures and a major architectural decoration. The size of the works range from those that fit into the palm of one’s hand to an intricately carved door frame nearly three metres tall.

Oceanic Collection

The AGO’s collection of more than 1,000 Australian Aboriginal artworks is the largest in Canada. The result of a gift made in 2002 to broaden the Gallery’s holdings of art outside the European tradition, these works come from New South Wales, the Northern territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, with particular emphasis on works from the northern and central part of the continent. A gift from an anonymous collector to the AGO in 2002, the Oceanic collection is entirely comprised of Australian Aboriginal art. With objects dating from prehistoric times to the mid-1900s, the collection has been assembled with an eye for “masterpieces” as well as a serious commitment to creating a collection that is representative of as many types of work and as many regional styles as possible. For example, each of the 327 boomerangs in the collection is a significant variant of the familiar minimal form.

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