Founded in 1900 by a group of private citizens, Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario is today one of the largest art museums in North America. Originally a 486,000 square-foot facility, the AGO re-opened in 2008 with a groundbreaking architectural design by famed architect Frank Gehry. After three years of construction, the new facility now boasts 583,000 square feet to showcase the 68,000 works in its collection, which spans 100 AD to the present.
More than 40% of the collection chronicles the development of Canada's art heritage since pre-Confederation, including one of the finest Inuit art collections in the world. The AGO also holds the work of Canadian artists Betty Goodwin, Kazuo Nakamura, David Blackwood, and American artist Robert Motherwell, the largest public collection of works by British sculptor Henry Moore, countless masterpieces of European art, a comprehensive photography collection and an ever-growing contemporary collection surveying the evolution of artistic movements in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. In November 2008, the AGO re-opened its doors with an exhibition titled Edward Burtynsky on Site, a photographic survey of the transformation of the AGO by Frank Gehry Architects.
Captured through the lens of acclaimed photographer Edward Burtynsky, the series of images documents the complexity of the process by which urban structures develop. The new building's launch was also commemorated with a series of Moleskine cahiers, sold in the museum gift shop. Two sets of black cahiers (pocket and large) were silkscreened with Gehry's original sketch for the new building, and wrapped in translucent paper bands. The world-renowned architect's working process is printed onto the back pocket: "Frank Gehry said that an idea for a building design often comes to him like a dream, and he must sketch it quickly on paper. Frank Gehry's sketch of the Art Gallery of Ontario captures the essence of the building's architectural form." If great art is meant to inspire, then these notebooks should serve as the museum-goer's perfect companion.