Archive for the ‘Ontario Science Centre’ Category

Was Harper Speaking About Torontonians?

2008 November 20

Our current Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently claimed that ordinary Canadians don’t care about the arts or their funding.

Interestingly enough, the renovated Art Gallery of Ontario re-opened for business this past weekend, and I rode my bike by there yesterday around 5:30 pm only to witness an incredibly long line-up to get into the gallery.  I’m talking like around-the-block-long.

On a related note, I read this article this morning in the NY Times.  It basically talks about how, even though many of the museums in Los Angeles are facing budget crunches right now, there is still talk of bringing yet another public art museum to the City of Bevery Hills (financed by philanthropist Eli Broad.)

These two stories caused me to revisit thoughts I’ve had for a while about the state of the cultural institutions of Toronto.  We basically have two major museums: the Royal Ontario Museum and the AGO.  Yeah, we have a few other minor ones like the Gardiner Museum (ceramic art), the Bata Shoe Museum (footwear), and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art.  I guess the Ontario Science Centre is kind of a museum, too.  However, given the fact that Toronto is the 5th largest city in North America (after Mexico City, NYC, LA, and Chicago) it’s a pretty sad state of affairs.  New York City is home to top-notch museums in art, architecture, photography, natural history, television, radio and technology.  Chicago has more than 40 museums open to the public, including three popular museums on the lakefront linked by a large park area known as the Museum Campus.  Even Montréal, which is half the size of Toronto, has like 4 or 5 major institutions.  What’s up with our cultural infrastructure?

One proposal that has been in the works for more than 5 years is the the Toronto Museum Project.  This would see a “signature piece on the waterfront [showcasing] Toronto’s cultural story and intercultural understanding.”  Current plans identify the Canada Malting Silos site at the foot of Bathurst Street as the proposed site for this new Toronto Museum.  Only time will tell whether this project will actually go forward, but I’m not placing any bets.  Two other contemporary museum projects went unrealized – Metronome: Canada’s Music City was shelved years ago and a more ambitious Toronto city museum, called Humanitas, was rejected half a decade ago.  There’s actually a current exhibit at the ROM entitled Unbuilt Toronto: The City That Could Have Been, that showcases unbuilt projects and unrealized building proposals over the last 150 years.

As for our city’s current cultural landscape, go out and support the arts – even if Stephen Harper thinks you don’t care about them.  I’m going to the AGO this weekend (although I’ll be prepared to line up.)