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Enthusiastic crowds experience the new AGO, in person and online

November 20th, 2008

Photo: AGO Photographer Christina Gapic © 2008 Art Gallery of Ontario

We’re thrilled to report that more than 68,000 people streamed through our transformed gallery throughout opening week – almost 52,000 of them during the 29-hour free weekend Nov. 14-16, despite the dreary weather as well as the Santa Claus Parade just blocks away. In fact for most of the weekend lines snaked down McCaul Street, through Grange Park and back up Beverly Street – but luckily most folks reported that it moved quickly and efficiently. I guess that’s a sign of how much Toronto wanted to see the new AGO, and for free!

Earlier in the week, more than 16,000 of our AGO Members got a sneak peak during Members’ Preview Days Nov. 9-11, and 520 new memberships were generated over the opening week.

Our redesigned AGO web site attracted 51,000 unique visits over the three-day public opening – with the top five countries of origin being Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France. The top five cities in Canada were Toronto, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and Richmond Hill. The top five US cities were New York City, Cleveland, Brooklyn, Buffalo and Chicago.

More than 500 people downloaded podcasts featuring highlights of the collection with our AGO director and CEO as well as the Thomson Collection of Ship Models. Hundreds shared their photos of the building’s exterior on Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/groups/ago/ Also, our AGO Facebook fan page grew by 527 members or about 30% in the last month, to 2629 fans.

Public reaction to the new AGO has been enthusiastic. Among the comments received via e-mail, ago.net and our Facebook page:

"I’m 82 years old and I’m going to spend the rest of my life here."

“Worth the wait!”

“(Galleria Italia is) absolutely breathtaking! It felt like an urban forest.”

“Congratulations on the spectacular new AGO! It is truly a masterpiece in itself and on several occasions I was deeply moved by the beauty and the passion it inspires. I would also like to pass on my compliments to everyone involved with the opening weekend. The efficiency and professional of moving so many people through was brilliant.”

“This truly was a great experience and I am glad to say I am a proud Torontonian to have been a part of this. You will certainly see me time and time again as a paying patron.”

"The AGO engages the immediate streetscape and feels like part of the neighbourhood. What can I say, a beacon shines brightly at Dundas and McCaul and we all are drawn to its glow."

"Please tell Mr. Gehry that looking at his design of the AGO has the same effect on me as listening to Monteverdi’s Vespro or Bach. It makes me weep with joy. Thank you all who made this possible."

"I found it endlessly interesting to see how themes were brought together through different time periods and styles. Thank you for a great experience."

We welcome your feedback – what did you think of the opening and new AGO?