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AGO Opens Family-Friendly Exhibitions for Holidays

FREE for 25 and under offer for Maharaja exhibition includes admission to permanent collection through exhibition's April 3 close

(TORONTO - December 23, 2010) Just in time for the holidays, the AGO is opening a group of intimate exhibitions that feature the work of two remarkable storytellers - Aesop and Walter Trier. Animal Tales: Beasts, Toys, and Fables from the AGO Collection opens December 24 and comprises four installations: Walter Trier: The Animals' Conference; Aesop and Other Fables; Savage and Sublime: Animal Prints from the 1700s; and Walter Trier's Toyland. The installations feature brightly coloured illustrations that celebrate the timeless appeal of picture books and the magic of visual storytelling.

"Because of our unprecedented offers of free admission to visitors 25 and under and the special family package for Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts, we wanted to ensure that families had a number of exciting reasons to spend a day of their holidays at the AGO," says Matthew Teitelbaum, the AGO's Michael and Sonja Koerner Director, and CEO. "In addition to the spectacular treasures on display in Maharaja, families visiting the AGO over the holidays will have the opportunity to experience a wide range of outstanding works of art, from Julian Schnabel's expansive canvasses and Betty Goodwin's inspiring notebooks-both on display in our contemporary tower-to the enchanting fun and whimsy of Animal Tales."

About the four installations that comprise Animal Tales:

Walter Trier: The Animals' Conference

Featuring more than 30 original pen-ink-and-watercolour illustrations by Walter Trier, The Animals' Conference is a classic children's book written by Erich Kästner and published in 1949. It tells a story of a group of animals who hold a peace conference at the same time as government leaders meet to discuss war. As the story progresses, the animals are forced to take drastic measures to ensure a future without conflict. The playful story unfolds through Trier's vivid watercolours, and in a nod to its young visitors, the AGO has replaced traditional wall labels with the text of the story and hung the works at a kid-friendly height. Hands-on activities for kids will be available inside the exhibition and copies of various translations and editions of the book will also be on view.

Aesop and Other Fables

Aesop's Fables has been published continuously for seven centuries and was one of the first illustrated books to be printed after the invention of the printing press. Published first in Latin, the fables have been translated into numerous languages over the centuries. This exhibition features selections from 27 different editions of Aesop's Fables-the earliest published in 1667, the most recent in 2008-displayed alongside texts from some of the most treasured tales, including "The Hare and the Tortoise" and "The Fox and the Crane". The exhibition also features 12 etchings by Francis Barlow, originally published in 1687 in the volume Aesop's Fables with his Life: in English, French and Latin. 

Savage and Sublime: Animal Prints from the 1700s

In the late 1700s images of wild animals-lions, tigers, leopards and untamed horses-appealed to the popular fascination in Britain for the exotic and the dangerous.  According to philosophers of the time, an individual could experience the sublime through the contemplation of such awe-inspiring, terrifying subjects. This installation includes seven works on paper by six artists, including two works by George Stubbs and three directly inspired by his work. The images of Stubbs and his contemporaries were spread to wide audiences through the remarkable engravings made after their paintings by other artists. 

Walter Trier's Toyland

In 1922, Walter Trier illustrated the book Spielzeug (Toys) by Oskar Seyffert. An avid collector of traditional German folk toys, Trier was inspired by their simple expressive forms and whimsical qualities, and they provided a constant source of inspiration for his art. This installation displays 11 watercolour illustrations along with three antique German toys from Trier's own collection.

Walter Trier: The Animals' Conference; Savage and Sublime: Animal Prints from the 1700s; and Walter Trier's Toyland are curated by Brenda Rix, AGO assistant curator of prints and drawings. Aesop and Other Fables is curated by Karen McKenzie, the AGO's chief librarian.

Walter Trier: The Animals' Conference will be on view until April 25, 2011; Savage and Sublime: Animal Prints from the 1700s and Walter Trier's Toyland will be on view through March 20, 2011; Aesop and Other Fables will be on view through March 27, 2011. Animal Tales: Beasts, Toys, and Fables from the AGO collection is generously supported by Nance Gelber & Daniel Bjarnason, Sara & Richard Charney, Judith Gelber, and Patricia & David Rubin.

The FREE for 25 and Under offer is generously supported by the Patrons of the Exhibition for Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts: Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., The Globe and Mail, Rogers Communications Inc., and Scotiabank Group.


With a permanent collection of more than 79,450 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. In 2008, with a stunning new design by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the AGO opened its doors to the public amid international acclaim. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase made of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block along the Gallery's façade; and the feature staircase, spiraling up through the roof of Walker Court and into the new contemporary galleries above. From the extensive Group of Seven collection to the dramatic new African art gallery; from the cutting-edge works in the contemporary tower to Peter Paul Rubens' masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, a highlight of the celebrated Thomson Collection, there is truly something for everyone at the AGO.


For more images and more information contact:

Antonietta Mirabelli, 416-979-6660 ext. 454,

Sean O'Neill, 416-979-6660 ext. 403,

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Culture. Additional operating support is received from the Volunteers of the AGO, the City of Toronto, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

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