A guide to the Toronto art scene
Although Toronto is not the capital of Canada (that’s Ottawa), it certainly is the biggest metropolis as a city with 6 million people, loads of pigeons, and condos which multiply as soon as you turn your back. Facing Lake Ontario and just a five-hour drive from Detroit, Toronto is best known as the “city of neighborhoods,” as it has 240 different districts. This is great for foodies—Little Italy, Little India and Chinatown have the grub. Also not to miss is the east end of Cabbagetown and the bustling Annex along Bloor Street, which has the Bloor Cinema.
The art scene in Toronto is lively, young and hip. Art galleries were built around the famed Toronto School of Art in the 1970s. A burgeoning strip of galleries followed on Queen Street West. Today, the art scene is vibrant all over the city with over 200 art venues and museums. Here are the top places to hit.
Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, this sprawling museum is a city landmark. Stop by to see the latest exhibition in contemporary art or browse the Canadian art collection, which features paintings by the Group of Seven, Emily Carr and recent works by David Altmejd.
For the past 30 years, this art space has garnered the reputation for being a cutting-edge institution for contemporary art. Set in a former electric power plant, it is crowned by a tall tower on the city’s harbor front, facing Lake Ontario. Don’t miss their annual Power Ball fundraising gala, which combines music, theater and art to highlight some of the city’s best talents.
This city museum recently relocated into a former industrial building in the Junction Triangle area with a new exhibition schedule, which continues to show young, Canadian talents along with international stars, like New York photographer David LaChapelle and Sherri Hay.
This is the official exhibition space for the annual Toronto International Film Festival, which descends upon the city every September. During the rest of the year, this cultural hotspot on King Street is a must-see hotspot for cinephiles, as the TIFF Lightbox also features year-round exhibitions themed around cinema, as well as screenings in comfy seats, a bar and a restaurant.
To take a break from the larger cultural institutions in Toronto and check out this restored heritage building That’s filled with small art galleries. Set on Richmond Street, there are artist studios, an artist-run cafe, a video art-themed art space, commercial art galleries and photography-centered art exhibition spaces.
Much more than just a hotel, this cultural institution has an exhibition space, concert venue, rooftop bar and curated art shop, which sells one-of-a-kind artist-made pieces alongside limited-edition ornaments, accessories and clothing.
For a comfortable stay, book a room at the Chelsea Hotel on Gerrard Street West. It has a sleek, modern design in classic Toronto architecture and boasts being Canada’s largest hotel with over 1,500 guest rooms. On the rooftop, there’s a pool overlooking the city skyline, a health club with a sauna and a Family Fun Zone with a circular waterslide called the “corkscrew.” The morning brunch offers endless variety, from pancakes with maple syrup to traditional Canadian hash browns and over 7 different kinds of coffee.
Don’t miss out on great art in Queen City. Follow our guide to Toronto’s Art Scene and be in the know. WOW air offers cheap flights to Toronto from around Europe every day of the week, all year round.
Text by Nadja Sayej