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Archive: March, 2009

Massive Uprising at the AGO

March 27th, 2009


A colossal disco ball, the riot police, drinking The Capitalist and Moscow Mule, Toronto’s hottest DJs, and an Executive Chef’s hors d’oeuvres, one night, for the first time with the Gehry-transformed AGO as the backdrop—get ready for this year’s Massive Party.

The annual AGO benefit is quickly approaching and I’ve been hearing whispers of excitement. This year, the works and performances of eight contemporary artists will be featured. One artist, Toronto-based Eric Mathew, has work anyone who has visited downtown Toronto will know. His project Live With Culture consists of banners prominently displayed from streetlight poles. Employing a mixture of screen-printing and painting techniques, his work addresses themes of consumerism, identity and the Canadian mythological fabric. At this year’s Massive Party, Mathews embraces the themes of rebellion and will use a 48-foot Gallery wall as the stage for his work.
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AGO Participates in Earth Hour 2009

March 26th, 2009

The AGO will be participating in Earth Hour on Saturday, March 28.  Earth Hour is a global lights-out event led by World Wildlife Fund to demonstrate that each of us can help fight climate change. The AGO will be making a concerted effort to turn off or turn down lights wherever possible throughout the building between 8:30 and 9:30 pm.

Interior lights will be turned off or dimmed in Galleria Italia, Granovsky Gluskin Hall, Walker Court and Shop AGO. There will be emergency lighting only in the south tower and Chalmers Wing. Security lighting around the perimeter of the building will be left on. Lights will be left on in the Jackman Hall area for the safety of Cinematheque patrons.

The first earth hour was held on March 31, 2007, when 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney (Australia) businesses turned off their lights for one hour. This massive collective effort reduced Sydney's energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for a year. For a taste of what is happening globally this year, check out

Who will you vote for?

March 23rd, 2009

Once again the public is invited to help one of 4 fabulous artists take home the 50,000 CAD Grange Prize.   This year we have added a new experience to the mix- an exhibition of the nominees work. This way you can check out the work here online or at the Art Gallery of Ontario and at the Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City before casting your vote.

Once you vote we would love to know what compelled you to go for your pick.   Did the subject matter draw you in?  Was it the style of photography or something you can’t describe?  Share your thoughts here!

The Grange Prize Team

Happy Birthday Toronto!

March 6th, 2009

Today is Toronto’s 175th birthday (imagine fitting all of those candles on a cake?!), also known as a demisemiseptcentennial (trying saying that 5 times fast). As you may have heard today on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, one of Toronto’s oldest buildings is the Grange, found at the south end of the AGO.

Built in 1817 by D’Arcy Boulton, the Grange is the oldest remaining brick house in Toronto. It was the first home of the Art Museum of Toronto, which would become today’s Art Gallery of Ontario. The Grange was given to the museum in 1911, and designated a national historic site in 1970.

Next time you visit the AGO, don’t forget to stop by the Grange. There are daily tours, centered on a fantastic discovery of strange objects unearthed during our recent transformation. Also, if you’re a member, you can relax in the members’ lounge with a beverage and snack. We can’t imagine a better way to celebrate our city’s birthday than with a visit to the Grange (Ended perhaps with an espresso and one of our pastry chef’s madeleines? It is a birthday after all).

Toronto Cultural Attractions Web Summit 2009

March 2nd, 2009

The Art Gallery of Ontario together with our colleagues from The Ontario Science Centre and the Royal Ontario Museum met to share ideas and ponder issues common to cultural attractions working in New Media. Thanks to Jesse Holmes, Web Designer/Developer at The Ontario Science Centre, for posting the following report on the day:

Toronto Cultural Attractions Web Summit 2009
v0.3, hosted by the AGO web team.

Every four months or so, the web teams from the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Ontario Science Centre, get together to talk web. This post is a summary of the third such meeting, which took place in the AGO’s beautiful new building. Seriously, if you haven’t visited yet, do yourself a favour and go. It’s a highly pleasurable experience.

The meeting marked the introduction of new format for the summit: the un-conference. So far, each organization has had their own unique take on hosting. But with the un-conference I think we’ve found a format that offers the highest value for the time spent.

The central idea to these gatherings is to give the web teams an opportunity to share ideas and get some outside perspective. We all spend a great deal of time working within the our respective organizational structures. Most of the folks that we do business with specialize in disciplines that don’t necessarily mandate web literacy. So it’s pretty great to get with a bunch of tweeps who all speak the same language. Having short, planned sessions gives just the right amount of structure to the interactions.
We saw four presentations. I’ve had a go at summarizing bellow:

Marty Spellerberg – Talking web pages

Marty took us through an interesting application for embedding video content on webpages – the talking webpage. Kind of like a talking exhibit or a virtual tour guide, the talking page includes a short 30-60 second clip of a staff member providing additional content and context for events such as tours or on-site activities.

On top of making the page content more accessible and interesting, I’m also really impressed by the thinking that has gone into the formatting of these spots. They’re essentially short, sweet vlog posts, comprised of a single shot, that introduce a character that you may encounter when you visit. Talk about leveraging some of your best assets.

If that wasn’t enough, we were also treated to a pretty hilarious idea that has all kinds of viral potential. Sorry I couldn’t find the link.

Jess Holmes – jQuery: write less, do more

I presented an idea that we’ve gotten a bit of millage out of at the OSC. The basic premise is that we can offer a whole lot of extra functionality to our clients by adopting javascript libraries. We used jQuery as an example. It’s not a new idea, but it’s a topic that causes non-web geeks to glaze over pretty quickly – so I jumped on the opportunity to yak about it to people who might listen.

Here’s the PowerPoint that I presented. Here are the sample links from the presentation.

Cheryl Fraser – Gaming & Museums

Cheryl led an interesting discussion on Museums and gaming. Sorry Cheryl, I can’t remember the name of the individual or conference that you referenced. The major point is that gamers are a HUGE segment. What are we doing as museums and science centres to engage gamers on their turf? Currently, not that much. We’ve had a go in the past, but at the moment we seem to be focused elsewhere.

That isn’t to say that museums can’t produce excellent work. Here’s Launchball, the game that won Best of the Web at #MW2008.

Noman Siddiqui – The how and why of marketing cultural organizations in international web campaigns

Noman, a new addition to the ROM’s team, bravely took the initiative and led a conversation on the need to engage communities outside of our core audiences. He posses an interesting question: What, if anything, are we doing to invite/attract visitors who may still be outside of Canadian borders? By creating international online marketing touch-points we become clear destination choices early on in the trip planning experience. Is it simply time that cements the association of the Louvre with Paris or is there something more to it? We are still a little thin on ideas for how exactly this process might work, but there did seem to be consensus that something would be better than nothing.


I’d be interested to hear how much everyone else liked this format. I, for one, would like to see the sessions extended a bit. Maybe I just need to do a better job of editing, but I definitely feel like I could have covered more ground with a little more time. Or maybe a gong show format where we dress up the managers in funny costumes and they cut us off when the session gets boring.

It would also be great to start to invite/include other organizations. We three are the biggest, but there must be other web teams out there that would see similar value in this type of experience.

Thanks again to all that participated and a special thanks to Ian, Kevin, Brian. It’s pretty great to have managers that are progressive and supportive enough to organize events like this.