Skip to Content

Art Gallery of Ontario

Keyword Site Search

Property / Building Fact Sheet


The Grange became the property of the Art Museum of Toronto following the death of Goldwin Smith on June 7th, 1910.

The Grange had been willed to the museum by Harriet E. M. Boulton Smith, née Dixon, who died on September 7th, 1909. A public announcement of the bequest was made in 1909 after her death. Goldwin Smith was to have life tenancy. The Grange was vested in the Art Museum of Toronto on January 1, 1911. (Until 1911, the museum had no home, and early exhibitions, one each in 1906 and 1909, were held in the OSA gallery or the Toronto Reference Library.)


Agreement with the City of Toronto making the Grange land available as a public park and providing for the acquisition of additional land on St. Patrick (Dundas) Street.

The land on St. Patrick Street was to be purchased or expropriated by the city (the process had begun in 1910 and was completed by 1914, but the houses were not all demolished until 1922); the city was to make an annual payment to the museum of $5,000. An agreement was dated January 11 of that year. "An Act respecting the City of Toronto" (passed by the Ontario legislature and assented to March 24, 19ll) incorporated this agreement and provided for the election of five representatives from city council to the council of the museum.


Formal opening of the Grange took place on June 5th.


A decision was made to begin construction of a small portion of the planned gallery building. The architects commissioned were Darling & Pearson.

Plans had first been submitted in 1912. Further plans and estimates were submitted in 1914; these were considered too expensive and were modified; the architects were then instructed to secure tenders. Progress on the plans and collection of funds was stopped in 1915 because of the war. Plans for a small section of the gallery were prepared in 1916. Digging began on Octobe 27, 1916.


New galleries created were square, long, and octagon (now Laidlaw and E.R. and F.P. Wood). These opened to the public on April 4; access to these galleries was through the Grange. Final cost of the project was estimated at $85,263.22.

Following the inaugural exhibition, the galleries were closed from 11 May to 27 August to allow the workmen to complete many details that could not be finished in time for the opening.


"Main door" on Dundas Street opened in April.


There was an agreement between the gallery and the Ontario College of Art regarding the erection of a building for the college on AGT grounds (dated May 12, 1920); the building was completed in 1921.


Corner-stone of the new galleries is laid by Governor General Lord Byng on 26 May. The architects commissioned were Darling & Pearson.

Plans and estimates had been submitted in October 1924 and the ground broken on November 17. The Grange and existing galleries were closed December 1925 to January 1926 because of the construction.


Opening of Sir Edmund Walker Memorial Court and adjoining galleries on January 29 by the Lieutenant Governor. Final cost of the project estimated at $277,278.09.

The two galleries west of the court named the Richard Barry Fudger Memorial Gallery and Rotunda; the cost of these galleries had been provided by H.H. Fudger in memory of his son.


Two galleries east of Walker court named Reuben Wells Leonard Gallery and Rotunda in memory of Colonel Leonard (d. 1930); "architectural treatment ... modified to conform to that of the Fudger Galleries." A new door leading into the Long Gallery from the centre of the Walker Court is opened.


Grants from the federal, provincial and municipal governments and the T. Eaton Company allow for the construction of two new galleries, opened in November. Architects commissioned were  Darling, Pearson & Cleveland.

Construction began in March 1935. The west gallery was named the Margaret Eaton Gallery as a memorial to Mrs Timothy Eaton. This gallery was later demolished to make way for Stage II, and the name was transferred to a new (the present Margaret Eaton) gallery to the south of the original location.


The "East Gallery" is renamed the E.R. Wood Gallery, following a gift of $22,500 from Edward Rogers Wood, Toronto financier. This gallery was later demolished to make way for Stage I and the name transferred to the Long Gallery (see under 1971). Domed ceiling light over the Fudger Rotunda replaced by a flat octagonal one. A similar ceiling light is installed in Leonard Rotunda in 1939.


Centre sections of railings on the east and west side of the sculpture court are replaced with removable railings to provide two more openings into the court.


The octagon gallery is named after Frank P. Wood and the square gallery after Walter C. Laidlaw on May 3, 1963.


A ground-breaking ceremony on September 7, 1971 by Premier Davis to mark the beginning of construction of Stage I.


E.R. Wood name is transferred to the long gallery in November 1971.


The Grange officially opened in April by Mayor David Crombie, following its restoration and furnishing as a historic house of the period 1835-40.


Opening of Stage I takes place on October 26. Premier William Davis, collector and patron Mrs. Ayala Zacks, and sculptor Henry Moore officiated.

Architects commissioned were John C. Parkin, Architects/Engineers/Planners. John Gordon Spence (appointment effective 6 April 1971; d.28 Feb. 1975), John P. ("Jack") Beckett, project managers.


Stage II opened on September 24th.


A competition for the Stage III expansion project is launched on August 25th, 1986.

The competition is limited to Ontario architects, respecting the institution's provincial mandate. From a total of 28 submissions, 12 firms were chosen for interview by a selection committee. The four finalists were Barton Myers Associates, A.J. Diamond and Partners, Moriyama and Teshima Architects, and Zeidler Roberts Partnership.


Winning design for Stage III selected by jury on Jan 19 and 20. Jury members were Phyllis Lambert, Moshe Safdie, Gustavo da Roza, Douglas Richardson, Peter Kolisnyk, Dr. Robert Bandeen, and William J. Withrow.

"The jury has unanimously selected an architect, Barton Myers, whose attitudes, priorities, and sensitivities it has enthusiastically endorsed. The design strategies to complete the Third and Final Stage of the Art Gallery of Ontario expansion are strong. They address the major elements of entrance, street, park and galleries ..."


Phase 1 of the Stage III expansion/renovation construction project begins with the construction of the Muzzo / Di Luca Tower, the Jean and Floyd Chalmers Wing, the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium, and the George Weston Hall and new main entrance.


Phase 2 of the Stage III expansion/renovation project continues with the construction of the Fredrik S. Eaton Wing (Dundas Street extension), renovation of Old Master and Canadian historical galleries.


Phase 3 of the Stage III expansion/renovation project continues with the rearrangement and renovation of existing spaces adjoining new construction, renovation of old office space into galleries, renovation of Member's Lounge, Restaurant and Education Services.

Gallery closes on July 4 for seven months, and lays off 244 staff (90 full-time, 76 part-time and 78 casual workers) due to financial constraints and lack of government funding. Construction continues.


Official completion of Stage Three and re-opening of the AGO takes place on Sunday, 24 January, 1993.

With completion of the project, exhibition space in the gallery is increased from 63,000 to 97,000 square feet, with the addition of 17 new galleries. The new interior dimensions of the AGO are 413,000 square feet, up from 320,000 square feet before the project started.

November 19, 2002

Announcement of the donation by Mr. Ken Thomson of his art collection of 2,000 works and a cash gift of $50 million towards a capital expansion of the Gallery's facility. The physical redesign and expansion will be led by architect Frank Gehry. The expansion project will enlarge the Gallery by 75,000 square feet and will increase exhibition space by more than 40%. Groundbreaking is planned for 2005, with the re-opening of the new building anticipated for late 2007.

November 14, 2008

The transformed AGO opens to the public with three days of free admission. 


Share and Enjoy: