Wednesday evenings offers free admission to the two big cultural attractions in Toronto, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. The museum only offers an hour, which really isn’t sufficient time to see everything, but I guess for locals that’s not an issue as they can always make more than one trip.
The general museum atmosphere is very much a “isn’t learning fun” one, with lots of interactivity and designs to make kids see how the exhibits relate to their daily life. In that respect it’s very well done, though as an adult I had more time for the Far Eastern Art which was presented in a more conventional museum atmosphere, presumably because they don’t think there’s any prospect of getting kids interested in it! The other thing I enjoyed was the amazingly beautiful collection of minerals there, though time didn’t really allow anything more than an appreciation of their appearance.
By contrast, the art gallery allows two and a half hours of free admission, which is more than enough time to see everything, particularly as the second floor is basically full of mediocre (and sometimes just plain bad) Canadian art. Paul-Emile Borduas was just about the only artist I liked.
Other than that, there’s a lot to enjoy. It’s a great building to start with, managing to combine modernity with a feeling of comfort. The collection of mainly European art is, understandably, a bit short of works for several periods/styles of painting and tries to make a virtue out of a necessity by taking a thematic approach instead. Some “themes”are pretty fluid, but it often works surprisingly well. The “herstory” room, primarily made up of portraits of women that span 200 years is really interesting.
Ribera’s – St Jerome. Now I love Ribera, and I like this piece, but the hands are really odd, It doesn’t fully come across in this link, but they look like baked apples or something.
Andre Derain- Still Life With Frying Pan
George Bellows – The Drunk. Gratuitous semi-nudity from the 1920s, posing as moral instruction.
Now for some blog interactivity. When I was young, I had a football management computer game (don’t all the best anecdotes start this way?) where the players abilities were described in words rather than, as is more normal, numbers. So you had to decide whether an “excellent” player was better than a “brilliant” one, or whether “decent” was worse than “good”. I was reminded of this when I saw all the categories by which the gallery listed its benefactors/founders. “First Founders” were top of the list, with mere “Founders” bottom. But in what order did these come in (I’ve alphabeticised them). A prize for anyone who gets it right, or is closest to doing so.