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Art, technology and archives unite at the AGO’s new David Milne Centre

Centre’s interactive features include access to digital Milne archive and 20 new short films

(TORONTO – April 13, 2012) An exciting new gallery space opens this weekend at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Launching on Saturday, April 14, the newly expanded and relocated David Milne Centre invites visitors to engage with the work of one of Canada’s most celebrated artists through a uniquely personal lens. Combining art with archives, and intoducing interactive research tools, the Centre is an innovative first for the AGO.

Located in the southwest corner of the Gallery and overlooking Grange Park, the new 1,180 sq. ft. David Milne Centre, designed by Thomas Payne of KPMB Architects, spans two floors and is designed to bridge the interior and exterior spaces of the Gallery with its expansive windows. The airy, light-filled space pays homage to David Milne’s passion for nature and preference to work in isolation.

“David Milne was one of Canada’s most recognizable and renowned painters, and has been highly influential in shaping the world of Canadian art,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, director and CEO of the AGO. “The David Milne Centre is a fitting way to preserve his legacy, and ensure that his work remains accessible for generations to come.”

On display in the Centre are 17 of Milne’s oil paintings, four watercolours and 10 never-before-seen works from his early New York period, recovered from an old trunk. In addition to these works, 230 archival items have been selected for display from among the 2700 objects in the AGO collection that were gifted by the Milne estate, including letters, photographs, diaries, sketches, Milne’s paint box and the painter’s coat.

To introduce the artist, the AGO has created 20 short films specifically for the Centre. Visitors are invited to select a documentary from a touch screen menu, relax on the couches provided, and view the film that is projected onto an overhead screen. Profiling the places Milne loved and painted, as well his personal history, these films provide a guided tour through Milne’s private world.

Launching soon in conjunction with the Centre is the Milne Digital Archive, the first of its kind in Canada. Providing visitors with access to over 2,700 works and archival items belonging to the Milne collection, it will be housed on the AGO website.

“I am very pleased that the AGO has created the David Milne Centre as a home for the Milne archive,” said David Milne Jr. “It will provide a wonderful window into my father’s life and creative process. He would be gratified to know that what he valued most, the making of art, will now be shared with an interested and engaged public. My family and I are grateful for the respect and care that the architect and staff of the AGO have shown in carrying out this project.”

Born in Bruce County, Ontario, David Milne (1882-1953) developed a unique artistic style, ranging from watercolour to oil and his innovative colour drypoint technique. A largely self-taught artist, and contemporary of the Group of Seven, Milne set out for New York City in 1903, exhibiting in the groundbreaking Armoury Show of 1913. Serving as a Canadian war artist in Britain, Belgium and northern France during WWI, he returned to upstate New York and cultivated his distinctive artistic style. In 1929, he returned to Canada, settling in rural Ontario. Following a year spent in Toronto, he spent the remainder of his life painting in relative seclusion, dividing his time between a cabin on the shores of Baptiste Lake and the small town of Uxbridge.

The David Milne Centre is generously supported by the Ivey Foundation and
Richard M. Ivey.

Additional financial assistance provided by the Government of Canada Infrastructure Stimulus Fund.

Programming highlights for the launch of the David Milne Centre include:

Finding David Milne: New AGO Milne Centre and Archive

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 7 p.m.
Marvin Gelber Print & Drawing Study Centre
Members $17 / Public $20 / Students $15

Join Amy Furness, Special Collections Archivist, and David Wistow, Interpretive Planner, and discover the Art Gallery of Ontario's newly re-opened David Milne Centre devoted to the Canadian artist David Milne (1882-1953). This experimental initiative calls attention to the central role of archives in the museum. Approximately 3,000 sketches, letters, notebooks, early canvases and watercolours from all stages of the artist's career are gathered in one dedicated space. Visitors can access the collection via multiple entry points, explore visible storage, and access interactive computer technology and video clips showing interviews, location footage and biographical information.

Accessible updates to neighbouring Gallery

Visitors entering the Milne Centre from the main floor will notice that significant changes have been made in the neighbouring Valerie Greenfield Thompson & Hunter EThompson Gallery. A model site for creating a more accessible AGO, the space has been remodeled to include wheelchair-friendly display furniture, closed-captioned videos and texts with large fonts. Featuring an interactive table mounted with three touch screen displays, visitors can screen interviews, view clippings, and share their own memories. The space has been revitalized as a permanent display for archival materials that celebrate the history of the AGO.

The first exhibition in this new space, Look Again: Picasso and Man, is an archival retrospective of the AGO’s first Picasso exhibition back in 1964. One of the most ambitious art exhibitions in Canada to date, featuring works loaned from around the word and two loaned by Picasso himself, an astonishing 106,000 people viewed the landmark exhibition during its five-week run. Opening April 14 and on display until Sept. 30, Look Again: Picasso and Man offers visitors the chance to witness the history of the museum through its documentary heritage. Archival gems include promotional materials, interviews, letters, candid photos and film footage of artworks arriving at the Gallery.

For more information on exhibitions and special programming, please visit

The AGO acknowledges the generous support of its Signature Partners: American Express, Signature Partner of the Conservation Program; and Aeroplan, Signature Partner of the Photography Collection Program.

With a collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002 Kenneth Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit to find out more about upcoming special exhibitions, to learn about eating and shopping at the AGO, to register for programs and to buy tickets or memberships.

May 1, 2012: Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris

October 20, 2012: Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.                                                       


 For more images, interviews, and more information, please contact:

 Andrea-Jo Wilson; News Officer, Communications

(416) 979-6660, ext. 403,

 Meagan Campbell; News Officer, Communications
(416) 979-6660, ext. 372,

Caitlin Coull; Manager, Communications
(416) 979-6660, ext. 364,

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