History of the Museum
The Gardiner Museum is Canada's only museum dedicated solely to ceramics and is one of the few museums in the world that focuses exclusively on ceramics. The Gardiner Museum opened in Toronto in 1884 and was initially dedicated to holding the collection of artifacts held by George and Helen Gardiner. From 1987 to 1996 the Gardiner Museum was governed by the ROM. From 1996 to 2004 to Museum underwent considerable growth and the collection grew to include ceramics from around the world. The Gardiner then closed from 2004 to 2006 to undergo renovation and expansion. Since reopening the Gardiner has gained exhibition and display space, and a hands-on clay studio space.
The collection held by the Gardiner Museum contains more than 3000 pieces of ceramics from around the world. The items in the collection range from ancient pottery to contemporary works of art. A large percentage of this collection has been digitized and made available online. The browse collections feature is a bit clunky, but the ceramics are sorted by collection type and are well photographed.
The Gardiner Museum also houses the Gail Brooker Ceramic Research Library. This library contains over 2500 items including auction catalogues, rare books, scrapbooks, periodicals, and special collections. The collection is searchable online. However, the collection is non-circulating and must be consulted onsite.
The Gardiner offers a variety of clay classes for all ages and skills levels. All of these classes are run by professional ceramists and are held in a studio setting. The museum also offers school programs, workshops, and group tours. The Museum also holds "Id Clinics" where patrons can bring in objects and have them identified by curators. Additionally, every day at 2pm the museum offers guided tours with the price of admission.
The museum has fairly decent hours and is reasonably priced ($12 for adults and half price admission on Friday evenings). For anyone interested in the clay medium this is the Canadian institution to turn to - both in terms of research materials and exhibited collections.
Photo Credit: wvs and StudioGabe