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The Grange is haunted?

January 23rd, 2017

 Julia Cannella is a Public Relations student at Humber College. She recently started a three-month internship with the AGO’s Public Affairs and Communications Department.

Julia Cannella

My first day at the AGO as the Public Affairs and Communications intern started two hours too early. Two things were running through my head when I set my alarm the night before. The first one is a line that a professor often recited: If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. The second thought was a series of unfortunate events that would make me late for my first day. Turns out that two hours of spare time was the best thing I could’ve brought to my first day; it’s just enough time to get your nerves to settle, and to buy a doughnut.

I work on the second floor of The Grange, Toronto’s oldest remaining brick building (or what AGO Members know as the Norma Ridley Members’ Lounge). My desk is in what was probably the maid’s bedroom 200 years ago. The most comforting part about working in The Grange is that on more than one occasion, AGO staff and volunteers have casually mentioned that it is haunted. I’m hoping they simply enjoy teasing the new intern and it’s not actually true. If there is going to be a lingering spirit, though, I’m sure it would be Flossie; Harriet Boulton Smith’s pet dog whose tombstone is displayed in The Grange (charming and creepy). It was Harriet who bequeathed her home to become the Art Museum of Toronto, and later the AGO.

Harriet Boulton Smith and her dog Flossie

The highlight of my first week was assisting with a CTV Toronto live news broadcast in the Mystical Landscapes exhibition. Before getting an internship at the AGO, I’d visit an exhibition and leave thinking only about the art and the artist. This week I sat at the end of an oval table lined with many people from many different departments who have been discussing the upcoming Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition for months. The experience took me behind the scenes into the effort that goes into putting an exhibition together, from curator to communicator.

The Grange

I work in a small subdivision called Public Affairs and Communications. Part of my time is spent with the members of the external communications team, who magically find a way to put the experience of an exhibition into words – and into the world. The rest of the time I work with colleagues in internal communications, who keep staff and volunteers connected to ensure the AGO runs smoothly.

After only one week on the job, I have a greater appreciation for the small teams across the organization that make big things happen for the AGO. I’m thankful to my team members and other AGO staff and volunteers for making my first week so welcoming.

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