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A mystical proposal

February 13th, 2017

Photo: Katherine Kwan, @kawaiiathy,

Deciding to spend the rest of your life with another person is a big enough decision, but then comes the proposal. Setting, mood, the element of surprise – it all needs to come together for the perfect moment. Plus, a great backdrop doesn’t hurt. And that’s what made AGO visitor Michael Pilatzkie decide that the Mystical Landscapes exhibition (which just closed on Sunday) was the perfect place to pop the question to his girlfriend Kaitlin Higgins.

“I am a member of the AGO and visit several times a month for work. I had been patiently waiting for Mystical Landscapes to open. Mike made me promise to wait for him to be able to join me before I saw it for the first time,” Kaitlin told the AGO over email after the shock was over. “Little did I know that Mike was planning something behind my back.”

“I was racking my brain for a couple weeks and nowhere had that ideal combination of scenery, sentimentality, and surprise… until I thought of the AGO! Kait had always spoken of the Gallery with such high regard, calling it one of her favourite places in the city numerous times. And now with the arrival of Mystical Landscapes there was no spot more perfect. I set a date for us to go, purposely pretending to forget it was exactly five years from the day we first met,” said Mike.

As Kait slowly strolled through the exhibit, Mike kept his distance as his heart pounded. He chose his moment when Kait was in front of Eugène Jansson’s Gryning över Riddarfjärden, got down on one knee, and asked her to marry him…. And she said yes!

Photographer Credit: Katherine Kwan, @kawaiiathy,

“The rest of the visit was spent taking photographs together in the beautiful galleries trying to take in all of the art but often getting completely distracted by the excitement of being newly engaged,” Mike said.

“We may have rushed through the second half of Mystical Landscapes because we were just so excited, but I’ve been back to visit as many times as possible since then to relive the moment over and over. When we finally sat down in the Atrium to start calling those close to us, a couple at a table beside us overheard our conversation and told us that they were there celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary, and they had gotten engaged several years prior in the AGO as well. We were so happy to share such an important moment at the AGO, and will forever consider it such a special place for us,” Kait said.

“The AGO has always been a special place to me, but now I can’t help but walk through with a smile on my face.”

Congrats Mike and Kait!

After the proposal comes, obviously, the wedding—and the AGO can be rented out as the perfect venue for the big day! Find out more here. Or become an AGO Member, and you might witness a live proposal yourself.

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