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Maxine Granovsky and Ira Gluskin Make $10 million Commitment to the new AGO

(Toronto, September 23, 2008) Two leadership donors to the AGO have more than doubled their original donation for a total gift of $10 million to the new Art Gallery of Ontario.

Following on their 2005 donation of $3 million to Transformation AGO, husband and wife Maxine Granovsky and Ira Gluskin are committing an additional $7 million.

In recognition of their gift, the AGO will name its Frank Gehry-designed entrance lobby Maxine Granovsky and Ira Gluskin Hall. In addition, the foyer leading from the main entrance to the coat check area will be named for Maxine’s mother, Shirley Granovsky.

“By being in a position of leadership at the AGO, I have the ability and opportunity to inspire others to support the Gallery,” says Granovsky.“ The new AGO will be such a beautiful and uniquely Canadian place, and Frank Gehry has designed an entry hall that will form people’s first impression of the Gallery as it hints at the amazing encounters with art waiting for them inside.”

Maxine is a vice-president of the AGO Board of Trustees, co-chair of the AGO New Founders donor group and chair of the AGO’s reopening committee. She and Ira are also members of the AGO’s Contemporary Circle donor group. Long-time supporters of the AGO, their philanthropy also extends to other cultural institutions, including the Royal Ontario Museum, Canadian Opera Company and Toronto Symphony Orchestra, as well as healthcare and education.

Both believe that investment in the arts creates great cities. “One of the markers of a great city is its cultural institutions,” says Gluskin, president and chief investment officer of Gluskin Sheff and Associates, which sponsored the opening-night gala for the 1994 AGO blockbuster Barnes Collection of French Impressionists exhibition. “Toronto is enhanced by the cultural projects already on stream,” he says. “I have no doubt that the AGO will be the best though – it’s going to blow people’s minds. The entrance hall space is magnificent and we’re fortunate enough to have the means. The decision was a simple one.”

“It is fitting that the space designed to first welcome visitors to their new AGO is named in honour of Maxine and Ira,” says Matthew Teitelbaum, the AGO’s Michael and Sonja Koerner director, and CEO. “A hallmark of their dedication to this extraordinary transformation is their profound interest in helping shape the visitor experience. Through their gift, they will welcome the world to a compelling art experience that starts at the front door, creating a warm and inviting vista into the galleries and art experiences beyond.”

Both welcoming and functional, Maxine Granovsky and Ira Gluskin Hall will offer barrier-free access with vertical-grain Douglas fir cladding along an iconic sculptural entrance ramp. The same hallmark material will be used for ticket booths, members and information desks and the coat check area. Ambar limestone flooring from Spain – used in Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao – will feature the architect’s signature earthquake pattern and will also be used throughout the arcades in Walker Court, creating a unifying element that visually connects the entrance hall to the Gallery’s interior.

Orientation signage designed by Bruce Mau Design will be dramatically visible along a backlit frieze finished in brushed aluminum. Maxine Granovsky and Ira Gluskin Hall will also showcase the AGO’s strengthened commitment to visitor service, with well-trained and uniformed front-line staff, improved traffic flow and a dedicated area to serve members.

“The generosity of Maxine Granovsky and Ira Gluskin will be celebrated each time a visitor enters the new AGO and is greeted by the warmth and intimacy of this distinctive entry space,” says the chair of the Transformation AGO Campaign, Michael Koerner. “And with each visit, people will be reminded both of the extraordinary architectural vocabulary that Frank Gehry has used throughout the Gallery and the AGO’s commitment to an extraordinary visitor welcome and experience.”

The Transformation AGO Campaign achieved its original goal of $254 million this past June – five months before the AGO reopens. The Gallery has achieved half of its additional goal of $22 million for project enhancements. The AGO will welcome members to a special preview November 9-11 and opens to the public for three days of free admission November 14-16.

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For media information or visuals, please call:
Antonietta Mirabelli, 416-979-6660, ext. 454, antonietta_mirabelli@ago.net

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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