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About the Canadian Collection

Canadian art at the AGO reflects 11,000 years of visual expression and tradition in the country. This dynamic, immense collection tells a wealth of stories in multiple voices throughout the ages.

The AGO has one of the finest collections of Inuit art in the world. The inaugural exhibition of Inuit art in the Samuel and Esther Sarick Gallery focuses on transformation – which occurs during the traditional spiritual practice of shamanism and when the ancient culture of the North came into contact with Southern newcomers. Over 500 sculptures are also exhibited in the Inuit Visible Storage Gallery on the concourse level, which demonstrates to visitors how the AGO functions behind the scenes. 

The galleries exhibiting the Thomson Collection of Canadian art reveal a significant facet of Ken Thomson's extraordinary commitment as a collector and philanthropist. With additional loans from the Thomson family, this collection is focused on paintings from the mid-1800s to the 1970s, and First Nations art from before contact with the Europeans to the early 1900s. Beyond its staggering scope and quality, the Thomson Collection features monographic installations of Lawren Harris, Cornelius  Krieghoff, William Kurelek, David Milne, James Wilson Morrice and Tom Thomson.

To meet the new challenges of an ever-widening scope of Canadian art, the installation of the J.S. McLean Centre for Canadian Art is structured by three ideas – memory, myth and power. Visitors will see many of their favourite works again, only now they are presented in new and dramatic ways. And they will surely notice an enhanced representation of women and historic First Nations artists.

Canadian Collection Facts

1,447 - the number of works, excluding projectile points, on display in the AGO's Canadian galleries. 

1,000 - the number of projectile points on display. These objects cover more than 11,000 years of history

164% - additional space in the new Canadian galleries created by Transformation AGO

500 - the number of works on display in the Inuit Visible Storage Gallery 



Signature Partner: Canadian Collection Program

Research and installation of the Canadian galleries are generously supported by:

  • Gretchen & Donald Ross
  • Jackman Foundation, 1964

Interested in branding ideas and experiences? Find out more about Corporate Partnership Opportunities.

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