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Art Gallery of Ontario
More than 110 spacious galleries trace the history of art over the past millennium. Of particular note is the contemporary collection, featuring Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, and Canada's gay General Idea collective, a trio of conceptual artists who worked together from 1969 to 1994. Also on show are European masters, including Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul C?zanne, and Canadian luminaries such as Emily Carr, Tom Thomson, and Lawren Harris.
The restaurant Frank, designed by Frank Gehry with an installation by Frank Stella, features a subdued palette, an all-Ontario wine list, and a menu of local seasonal ingredients.
Royal Ontario Museum
The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, which opened in June 2008, is Daniel Libeskind's addition to Canada's largest museum. The centerpiece of a $270 million expansion project, Libeskind's five interlocking crystalline glass and aluminum icebergs form an edgy, jagged contrast to the original ornate neo-Romanesque museum building and its subsequent sober additions. The museum is home to more than a million pieces, from mammoth molars to 1950s couture, and, in the pinnacle of the fifth prism, the incredibly hot C5 restaurant.
Bata Shoe Museum
Not so new (the museum's current home was finished in 1995), the outstanding Bata Shoe Museum has a collection of more than 12,500 items, so there's always some fetching new piece of footwear to admire, no matter how often you visit. Designed by Raymond Moriyama to resemble a shoebox with its lid propped open, the Bata features collections that tread softly through history by way of what we wore. Highlights range from Queen Victoria's slippers to Marilyn Monroe's 1960s red pumps and Elton John's 1973 silver-and-red platform boots.
Ontario College of Art and Design
A 275-foot-long rectangular coffee table hovering 85 feet above the rest of the art school below, OCAD's Sharp Centre for Design is well worth turning the corner from the AGO to admire. Unfortunately, you can't go into the building, which was designed by British architect Will Alsop, unless you enroll in classes. But the best alternative to going in is admiring the building from below, from Queen and McCaul streets.
Gardiner Museum of Ceramics
Local architect Bruce Kuwabara designed the expansion, opened in 2006, of this extensive collection of more than 3,000 historical and contemporary ceramics (from pre- Colombian Mayan sun gods to Ming and Meissen ware). For the new look Gardiner cast aside its old pink granite for polished buff limestone, plus limestone louvers, and softly ascending terraces. Local celebrity chef Jamie Kennedy is in charge of the airy third-floor restaurant with its floor-to-ceiling views of the city.
Part One | Part Two