The pace is visibly quickening around the Art Gallery of Ontario’s much-anticipated Weston Family Learning Centre, with design development already underway.
The project was first announced in September 2008 following on a lead gift of $12 million from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation. The gift included $10 million toward capital costs for the Learning Centre and $2 million toward an endowment to be named the Weston Family Teacher Training Fund – the AGO’s first education program endowment. The project received a second major boost last month when the Government of Canada announced a $7.5 million funding contribution from its Infrastructure Stimulus Fund.
To be completed within the existing footprint of the AGO, the Weston Family Learning Centre will enable the Gallery to increase participation in art education for all ages with dedicated spaces for art instruction, workshops and community-based exhibitions. It will be a fully wireless, networked facility with integrated technology throughout. State-of-the-art seminar rooms will feature broadcast and videoconferencing capabilities. The Learning Centre will reach out to students and teachers in their classrooms through online interactive technologies. The Weston Family Teacher Training Fund will support on-site and on-line workshops and professional development for teachers.
Demolition is expected to begin by late April, and construction begins in June. Substantial completion of Learning Centre is expected by mid-March 2011, with an anticipated official launch in fall 2011.
Despite the impact of the construction project, the Education department has been working hard to relocate or modify programming where possible. A large number of programs will continue:
- Adult lectures, symposia and talks in various gallery locations;
- Adult in-gallery courses;
- Teacher events and professional development;
- Public and private group tours;
- Youth programs (Free after 3, Youth Council and Teens-Behind-the-Scenes programs);
- School programs in gallery spaces;
- Summer Camp 2010 (in partnership with OCAD);
- Evening programming and public events;
- Education outreach and partnerships; and
- Travel AGO.
The following programs will be suspended for the duration of the project:
- Gallery School winter session classes end this week and spring session classes will be cancelled. All registrants are eligible for full refunds.
- School studio visits will run through the end of April, while schools booked for studio programs in May and June will be offered the opportunity to change their dates.
- Off the Wall will close in July, with the anticipation that additional family-friendly activities will be developed for Gallery spaces for the duration of construction.
Feel free to contact the AGO’s Program Registration with any queries related to refunds or rescheduling of studio visits at 416.979.8806 (Monday to Fridays, 9 am to 5 pm) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.