One thing I love about places like New York, Paris and London are the museums. So when I had to spend some time recently in Toronto I was fretting a bit because as far as I knew there wasn’t anything there that could really pique my interest the way the Met or the Musee D’Orsay could. Then a friend told me about the University of Toronto Art Center. They knew about my interest in medieval and Byzantine art and said I’d be blown away by the Art Centre’s Malcove Collection. Find Out More more about the Toronto
They were right. I had no idea Toronto played host to such a collection and spent nearly the entire day visually sifting through the priceless relics, the architectural fragments from Byzantine churches and monasteries, the icons and other paintings like the Adam and Eve by Northern Renaissance master Lucas Cranach the Elder. Just hundreds of objects I never would have expected to see outside the great museums of Europe. After leaving the UTAC (as they call it) I shuffled over to Kensington Market where the University vibe is strong and the key work is “eclectic”. It was like stepping back in time to the Haight, only better, smarter and funkier. There were vintage clothing shops, open air bistros with some extraordinary coffee, retro provision stores with all manner of hand crafted foods and artwork, everywhere. The area has actually been designated a National Historic Site and I can see why.
After the pleasant surprise that was the University of Toronto Art Centre and my sojourn through Kensington I decided to give other Toronto art galleries a second look. I have to say, from the Frank Gehry designed Art Gallery of Ontario with its breathtaking renaissance and baroque masterpieces to the Michael Lee-Chin “Crystal” addition to the Royal Ontario Museum I need to completely reboot my perception of Toronto as an art centre.