gardiner museum toronto

Toronto museum is about to undergo a major $14 million transformation

The Gardiner Museum announced on Tuesday that it will undergo a massive transformation to the tune of $14 million following a generous $9 million donation from The Radlett Foundation.

The sizeable sum was donated in honour of the late philanthropist William B.G. Humphries, who established The Radlett Foundation. Humphries, who was a lifelong collector of ceramics and supporter of Indigenous communities through the arts, passed away in 2020.

The $9 million donation marks the single-largest cash injection for the Gardiner Museum from an individual other than its founders, George and Helen Gardiner.

Using this donation as a catalyst for change, the museum is planning what it calls a "full-scale reimagining" of its ground floor, the design of which will be led by Montgomery Sisam Architects and Andrew Jones Design.

gardiner museum toronto

Additions planned in this renovation include a new fully equipped makerspace, a community engagement centre, and an Indigenous gallery space.

"The addition of a gallery space dedicated to Indigenous ceramics will introduce a vital and currently underrepresented area of ceramics to the Museum, as well as furthering our commitment toward reconciliation as an institution," said Dr. Sequoia Miller, Chief Curator and Deputy Director at the Gardiner Museum.

The Indigenous gallery will be positioned at the heart of the museum's ground floor, and will be surrounded by reimagined exhibits that highlight Canadian and Indigenous stories across generations of ceramics.

A Curator of Indigenous Ceramics is being sought to lead the development of the Indigenous gallery space, while the Museum also plans to engage in consultation with its Indigenous partners to curate the gallery.

"The addition of a gallery of Indigenous ceramics at the centre of the Museum embodies the Gardiner's commitment to working with communities to reflect and explore Indigenous cultural practices of the past and present," said artist Kent Monkman, a member of the Gardiner Board and the Indigenous Advisory Circle.

Renderings of the renovation have been released, showing off a palette of materials, including wood, corrugated metal, concrete, and, most notably, clay.

"The Gardiner Museum has been presented with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring our physical space in line with our mission to build community with clay," said Gabrielle Peacock, Executive Director & CEO of the Gardiner Museum.

In addition to the massive monetary gift, the Foundation is also contributing more than 250 objects from Humphries' personal collection of ceramics and decorative arts, with a focus on 18th-century English porcelain. These additions join 62 pieces previously donated by Humphries before his passing.

The Gardiner Museum's new 8,952-square-foot space will be the centrepiece of the $14 million project.

Construction on the renovations is expected to begin in summer 2024.

Lead photo by

CNW Group/Gardiner Museum

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