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Gardiner Museum

30th Anniversary Celebrations

30th Anniversary Celebrations



Through our year-long celebrations, we recall the past thirty years but also look to the next thirty, as we demonstrate what makes the Gardiner one of the world’s great specialty museums and why everyone can love clay.


The Gardiner Museum with the newly unveiled Untitled (Head), 2002 by Jun Kaneko, September 2013. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid



We begin the 30th Anniversary year on Thursday, March 6, with a talk on Italian maiolica by Timothy Wilson from the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University. It's the first in our international lecture series (see 30th Anniversary Lecture Series), and opens A Tribute to George & Helen Gardiner and The Joy of Collecting (see Exhibitions).



Opening March 6 — A Tribute to George & Helen Gardiner and The Joy of Collecting. The lobby exhibition A Tribute to George & Helen Gardiner, pays homage to our founders and highlights the areas in which they collected: Ancient Americas, Italian Renaissance, English Delftware, 18th-century English and Continental Porcelain, and Hausmaler-decorated porcelain. The focus exhibition The Joy of Collecting presents the fascinating history of collecting at the Gardiner, featuring portraits of collectors who have generously donated to the Museum, and enlarged the scope and status of Canada’s national ceramics museum.

The 30th Anniversary exhibitions are complemented by our feature exhibitions in the George R. Gardiner Exhibition Gallery.

Ron Thom and the Allied Arts (February 13 April 27) explores the enduring legacy of Ron Thom, one of Canada's greatest architects, arguably our Frank Lloyd Wright. Focusing on the most exciting period of Thom's career (1947-1972), the exhibition presents a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at his masterpieces and how ceramics — with his reverence of the Mingei folk craft movement became essential to his total design aesthetic.

Camp Fires: The Queer Baroque of Léopold L. Foulem, Paul Mathieu and Richard Milette (May 29 September 1) reveals the concept of "Camp" in the work of three important Francophone Canadian ceramic artists: Léopold L. Foulem, Paul Mathieu and Richard Milette. Camp Fires is an often sensual encounter of these artists' powerful body of work, one that addresses subversive ideas about queer identity through clay.

British artist Clare Twomey — internationally-renowned for her interactive interventions in prestigious British and American museums — creates our most spectacular artist intervention to date with her exhibition piece by piece (October 4 - January 11).  Specially commissioned for the 30th Anniversary year, Twomey’s installation will investigate the intersection of making and collecting through the lens of the Gardiner Museum’s 18th-century European porcelain collections.  Her concept, still under development, will invite viewers to reflect on and reinterpret the Gardiner’s collection through a temporary installation that will feature a performance component highlighting the tensions between making, skill and the fetishizing of objects.


Scowling Harlequin, Germany, Meissen, c. 1738-1740. Hard-paste porcelain, overglaze enamels, gilding. Modeller: Johann Joachim Kändler (1706-1775). Gift of George and Helen Gardiner, G83.1.907.



30th Anniversary Weekend: On March 8 & 9 we celebrate the heritage of the museum, as we welcome volunteers, members, and long-time supporters who have been an integral part of the Gardiner’s history. Visitors to the museum will enjoy free admission along with additional guided tours and docents to enrich your gallery experience, expanded drop-in clay classes, and family-friendly activities on Sunday.

Spring Awakening: From April 25 to 27 we look to the next thirty years and celebrate the season of renewal with Spring Awakening. Its stunning large-scale floral installations will dominate the open spaces of the museum, bringing the beauty of the season and the Gardiner’s collection to life in an entirely new way. The Gardiner Shop will feature a curated presentation of one-of-a-kind studio ceramics with a focus on Canadian artists.


Rendering of the new 2nd floor European Porcelain Galleries by PS Design



Help us transform our second-floor European porcelain galleries! Unchanged since they were first installed in 1984, the Gardiner recently secured a challenge grant of $150,000 from a generous private donor to reinvigorate these galleries. As we look to the future, we need your help to update this gallery to create an exhibition space that will make one of the world's finest European porcelain collections more accessible and engaging for a broader public. Make your donation today >>



For the ceramics enthusiasts, we are bringing an international roster of leading ceramics experts who will speak on key aspects of the Gardiner collection.


George and Helen Gardiner, co-founders of the Gardiner Museum, in 1984



No anniversary year is complete without the parties to go along with it! Join us for one of these special events:

Summer Plaza Parties: We take the party outside to our fantastic plaza for five Friday evenings from June 27 through July 25. Enjoy musical guests, food, drink and a different party theme each week, kicking off with a fabulous Camp Fires bash in celebration of our summer feature exhibition as well as World Pride!

30th Anniversary Gala: The 18th-century comes alive in our 30th Anniversary Gala on Thursday November 13. Taking its inspiration from the beauty, opulence and sensuality of the period from our porcelain galleries, the evening will take you on a journey into the sumptuous colours, enlightened minds and the golden age of European porcelain, with a contemporary spin on the dynamism of the 18th-century as the Gardiner looks to the future.

12 Trees G Party: What better way to end the Anniversary year than with a Gardiner tradition? The 12 Trees G Party is our annual signature fundraiser that recently celebrated its own milestone – its 25th Anniversary in 2013. Designer-made Christmas trees mixed with the merriment of the holiday season bring our 30th year to a spectacular close.

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