Entrepreneur and businessman, George Gardiner began his personal collection of ceramics in 1976 with nothing more in mind than the decoration of his home in Toronto, Canada. He and his wife Helen were attracted to the creations of Ancient American vessels, 18th century European and Chinese porcelains. What started out as an occasional purchase soon became a passionate obsession. Helen spent a year in London, England in the late 1970s taking what was then known as auction house Christie’s “Fine and Decorative Arts Course” in order to increase her knowledge of ceramic art; George would visit her on weekends.
Soon every nook, cranny, closet and shelf in the Gardiner house was overflowing with ceramics. Although they regularly shared the viewing of their acquisitions with friends, they realized that it was time to share their magnificent collection with the greater public. So it was that the Gardiners co-founded the George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, simply known as the Gardiner Museum today, “in the hope that the Museum would contribute in a meaningful way to the understanding and appreciation of ceramic art worldwide.”
The Museum, unique in its focus solely on ceramics, was originally designed by Keith Wagland in 1984 and expanded by KPMB Architects in 2000. A delicious addition to the newer building is the Gardiner Cafe that now serves the culinary lunch specialties of Simon Kattar, renowned Executive Chef/Partner of a la Carte Kitchen Inc.
The Gardiner’s permanent collection boasts more than 3000 pieces: Ancient American, Asian, European, and British. Highlights include French Sevres and German Meissen porcelains, Dutch Delft pottery and English Derby, Worcester and 19th century Minton. The Italian Commedia dell’Arte figurines and the scent bottle groupings are most special. Unique domestic and international exhibitions are held several times a year and there are in-house clay classes, taught by professional ceramicists, offered to adults and children alike.
The Gardiner more than fulfills its mandate in “striving to be an inviting destination that inspires and connects people, art and ideas, through clay.”
Tours of the Museum are offered free with admission daily at 2:00 P.M.
Admission: Adults: $12., Seniors: $8., Students: $6. Children 12 and under: Free. Tuesdays: Free for Post-Secondary students with ID.
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Friday: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM (Half–price admission from 4:00 – 9:00 PM) Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
Location: 111 Queen’s Park, Toronto, Ontario Telephone: (416) 586-8080