AGO reveals Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and its architectural partners Diamond Schmitt, Selldorf Architects and Two Row Architect, have revealed designs for the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery, the museum’s expansion project.

The Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery, view from intersection at Dundas Street West and McCaul Street. Credit: Rendering by Play-Time, courtesy of Art Gallery of Ontario, Diamond Schmitt, Selldorf Architects and Two Row Architect.

The 40,000 square foot expansion will sit one story above the AGO’s existing loading dock, and connect to its current galleries from four locations. The development will include at least 13 new galleries across five floors – increasing the AGO’s total space available to display art by 30 per cent.

The AGO describes these new column-free galleries as “highly functional” and “very flexible to display the works of today’s great modern and contemporary artists, and adaptable to the needs of future generations of artists working across all media.”

Aerial view of the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery looking northwest. Credit: Rendering by Play-Time, courtesy of Art Gallery of Ontario, Diamond Schmitt, Selldorf Architects and Two Row Architect.

Dani Reiss, Chairman and CEO of Canada Goose, member of the Order of Canada and an art collector, gifted the AGO $35 million — one of the largest gifts in the museum’s history — to launch this project. 

“The Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery is more than an expansion project – it’s how we fulfill our mission to bring people together with art, propel global conversations that speak to the issues of our time, and reflect the diversity of Toronto, Ontario and Canada,” said Stephan Jost, Michael and Sonja Koerner Director, and CEO of the Art Gallery of Ontario. “In the past decade we’ve welcomed more than 20,000 artworks into the collection and now thanks to both a monumental lead gift from Dani Reiss and the vision of our architect partners, we’re set to display them in a thoughtful, dynamic, and truly beautiful space. I’d like to thank Jay Smith Co-Chair, Rupert Duchesne, President and Co-Chair and the entire AGO Board of Trustees for all the work they have undertaken to date. Like Toronto itself, the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery is driven by both generosity and creativity.”

Interior view of the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery gathering space at sixth floor gallery entry. Credit: Rendering courtesy of Art Gallery of
Ontario, Diamond Schmitt, Selldorf Architects, and Two Row Architect.

The Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery is being designed to operate without burning fossil fuel. The all-electric mechanical plant will use no operational carbon and create no emissions, while seeking CAGBC Zero Carbon Operating Building certification – making it one of a very small number of museum spaces to accomplish this. It will also be built to Passive House standards, for maximum heating and cooling efficiency. 

Initiated in 2022, the design of the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery is being informed by ongoing consultation with Indigenous leaders and communities, led by Two Row Architect.

These conversations and others are instrumental in leading the team to adopt adaptability, accessibility, relevancy, zero carbon operating and inclusivity as their guiding principles. The AGO is grateful for the support of Chief R. Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (Tkaronto’s Host Nation).

Interior view of the Dani Reiss Modern and Contemporary Gallery on sixth floor. Credit: Rendering courtesy of Art Gallery of Ontario, Diamond Schmitt, Selldorf Architects, and Two Row Architect.

“Diamond Schmitt is thrilled to partner with the AGO in creating an expansion that will host extraordinary collections and be a catalyst for global conversations about art reflecting the diversity of Toronto, and further the museum’s role as a cultural anchor of the city,” says Don Schmitt, principal at Diamond Schmitt. “Our goal for the design is to create meaningful opportunities for connection: with the Museum’s other monumental wings and galleries, with the surrounding environment, and above all, with the larger community. Net zero operations are the foundation of our design approach, ensuring that this space is highly flexible and responsive to the needs of both future generations of artists with boundless vision and our climate.”

This will be the seventh expansion that the AGO has undertaken since it was founded in 1900. The project is currently in the early stages of the municipal and public review process.

Construction is expected to commence in 2024. Estimated construction development costs at this early stage is approximately $100-million. EllisDon is the project Construction Manager. 

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