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Transformed AGO sets public opening Free admission November 14-16

(Toronto: May 28, 2008) The countdown begins.

On Friday, November 14, the fully-transformed Art Gallery of Ontario will open to the public with three days of free admission.

Celebrated architect and Toronto-born Frank Gehry's first Canadianbuilding, the new AGO will welcome the world to 110 light-filledgalleries featuring more than 4,000 new and perennial favourite artworks.

The public opening day begins with a special ceremony in partnershipwith Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Institute for CanadianCitizenship, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony after which some ofCanada's newest citizens will be among the first to experience the AGO.

The Gallery's opening celebration will be a distinctive statement ofwelcome to all — from people across Ontario to Canada's newestcitizens, from local artists to international art museum directors,from next door neighbours to tourists from around the world.

"Through Frank's remarkable design, the new AGO declares itself andwhat it stands for — a joining of the art museum and the city, an openinvitation to enter and participate in something memorable andexciting," says Matthew Teitelbaum, the AGO's Michael and Sonja Koernerdirector, and CEO. "The architecture, the installations and theprogramming clearly say you can imagine yourself here, that we're gladyou are here."

Signature elements of the new building include an iconic sculpturalstaircase emerging from Walker Court (the historic centre of the AGO),the celebrated Galleria Italia with its dramatic sweep of glass andDouglas fir that extends an entire city block along Dundas Street, andthe new contemporary tower with its vistas of Grange Park and the city.

The unprecedented growth of the AGO's permanent collection will be afocal point of the Gallery — from the much-loved Group of Seven to theart of world cultures, from David Altmejd's monumental installation The Index to Peter Paul Rubens' masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents,a highlight of the internationally acclaimed Thomson Collection. Thelate Ken Thomson's unprecedented gift of more than 2,000 works willextend the visitor experience far beyond what was possible before ourtransformation.

"It is a gift for the ages," says Teitelbaum. "Ken was steadfast in hisbelief that Transformation AGO was a journey to be shared by many — agallery built by our community to serve our community. His vision willbe realized when we open and his magnificent collection will be alegacy for generations to come."

With the AGO's opening, a number of new and expanded programs areplanned, including free after-school admission for Ontario studentsages 13-18. The AGO will also continue its popular free Wednesdaynights and its free access partnership with the Toronto PublicLibrary's Sun Life Museum Arts Pass program, the Institute for CanadianCitizenship's Cultural Access Pass program for new citizens, and theaccess program for all members of the Ontario College of Teachers.

"The Ontario government is proud to support this exciting new phase forthe AGO," said Culture Minister Aileen Carroll. "The transformedGallery will be an extraordinary addition to our province and will drawvisitors from around the world. I look forward to the openingfestivities in November and welcome the news that the Gallery will befree to everyone for the first few days."

The new AGO will offer an almost 50 per cent increase in art viewingspace. Introductory "hubs" for each of the Gallery's core areas(African, Canadian, Contemporary, European, Photography, Prints andDrawings and Education) will orient visitors, while galleriesthroughout will engage everyone from art experts to first-timersthrough interactive media, art-making activities, feedback stations anddiscussion forums. A casual-chic restaurant and family-friendly café, atwo-level gift shop and a free contemporary gallery will be easilyaccessible from the street.

"When the AGO opens this fall, we will fulfill the promise of ourtransformation, signaling a remarkable new chapter in our 108-yearhistory," says AGO President Charles Baillie. "Now that we've set thedate, we're looking forward to welcoming the world to an extraordinarynew home for extraordinary art. This will be their AGO."

A reminder: Even as the countdown is underway, theAGO's Gallery School remains open at 60 McCaul Street, offering classesin drawing, painting, mixed media, photography, sculpture and more.Registration is underway for AGO Art Camp for ages 6-13. Also inoperation are the AGO's Art Rental and Sales, at 481 University Ave,and Travel AGO program. For more information on AGO activities andoptions during the final months before opening, visit www.ago.net.

With a permanent collection of more than 68,000 works of art, the ArtGallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in NorthAmerica. The Gallery began an extraordinary chapter when it launchedTransformation AGO in 2002. Multi-faceted in scope, Transformation AGOinvolves the unprecedented growth of the permanent collection, aninnovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect FrankGehry, and the strengthening of the museum's endowment resources. Asthe imaginative centre of the city, the transformed AGO willdramatically enrich our visitors' experiences and provide greateraccess to the full vibrancy of the art museum.

Transformation AGO is generously supported by the Government of Canadaand the Province of Ontario through the Canada-Ontario InfrastructureProgram. The launch of the transformed AGO is generously supported bythe Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund.

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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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