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#RetroAGO: Our first building in 1918

April 24th, 2018

People laying bricks in 1916 Toronto.

Construction of the 1918 addition. Exterior view looking north-west (probably from NW bedroom in the Grange) toward the stables over the floor of the octagon Gallery. Image courtesy of the AGO.

This month we’re going back – back to the AGO’s beginning. April’s Library & Archives Unshelved series – the monthly drop-in at the AGO’s Edward P. Taylor Library & Archives that explores our extensive art research resources – will showcase photographs from the AGO’s history on Wednesday, April 25.

AGO archivist Marilyn Nazar unearthed the 100-year-old photographs that show when construction finished on the first AGO building, which added new gallery spaces to the beloved Grange. The Grange became the property of the Art Museum of Toronto (as the AGO was known then) following the death of Goldwin Smith on June 7, 1910. After years of temporary exhibitions at the Ontario Society of Artists’ museum and the Toronto Reference Library, The Grange became the first home for the Art Gallery of Toronto.

After a delay because of the First World War, work on part of the planned gallery building began in 1916. According to the plans by Darling & Pearson Architects, digging started October 27. New galleries — square, long and octagonal (now the Walter C. Laidlaw Gallery and both the E.R. and Frank P. Wood Galleries) — opened to the public on April 4, 1918, with access through the main doors of The Grange. The remaining galleries, including Walker Court, were completed in 1926.

Check out the photos below of the original architectural designs and construction of what we now know and love as the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Archival photo of the Art Gallery of Ontario from the AGO Library & Archives.

S.H. Maw’s watercolour of Darling and Pearson’s concept for the 1924 expansion, built 1924-25; opened January 29, 1926. Image courtesy of the AGO.

Archival photo of the Art Gallery of Ontario from the AGO Library & Archives.

Image courtesy of the AGO.

Archival photo of the Art Gallery of Ontario from the AGO Library & Archives.

Construction of the Building – Walker Court, trim around arches being put up. Image courtesy of the AGO.

Archival photo of the Art Gallery of Ontario from the AGO Library & Archives.

Looking across inside of Walker Court to north end. Image courtesy of the AGO.

Archival photo of the Art Gallery of Ontario from the AGO Library & Archives.

View north from front door of board walk leading to Dundas Street. Image courtesy of the AGO.

Archival photo of the Art Gallery of Ontario from the AGO Library & Archives.

Construction of first building looking NW. Grange stables in middle ground with two servants’ cottages.
Image courtesy of the AGO.

Archival photo of the Art Gallery of Ontario from the AGO Library & Archives.

Construction of the 1918 addition. Interior of the Long Gallery looking east into the Square Gallery. The roof frames being mounted. Image courtesy of the AGO.

Archival photo of the Art Gallery of Ontario from the AGO Library & Archives.

Joint Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts and the Ontario Society of Artists, April 5 – May 11, 1918. Image courtesy of the AGO.

Archival photo of the Art Gallery of Ontario from the AGO Library & Archives.

Royal Canadian Academy of Arts 41st Annual Exhibition in 1919. Image courtesy of the AGO.

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