Like many of you, we have been closely following the developments of COVID-19. The safety of our visitors, campers, staff, and volunteers is our top priority. Upon the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, the Gardiner Museum will close temporarily effective Saturday March 14, 2020.
We will continue to take guidance from our public health officials regarding the duration of the closure and will post updates to our website and social media channels as they become available. We are grateful for your support and thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to navigate this challenging time. We look forward to welcoming you back to the Gardiner soon.
The starting dates of our Spring Clay Classes will be delayed. Rest assured that no cancellation penalties will go into effect before the revised dates have been announced. We are working to develop a new schedule as quickly as possible and appreciate your understanding.
The Gardiner Museum is among the few museums in the world focused on ceramics, and is one of the most important specialty museums internationally. It houses approximately 4,000 objects, including European porcelain, ceramics from the Ancient Americas, Chinese porcelain, Japanese porcelain, and contemporary ceramics. Search the collection online!
Support the Gardiner's mission to champion clay, build community, and promote arts education. All of our memberships include a full year of free admission to the Museum, as well as discounts at CLAY Restaurant and the Gardiner Shop, and start and at just $30!
The second half of the 19th century was a golden age of collecting in Europe and North America. The epicenter in Canada was Montreal, then the country’s economic powerhouse. In a period of colonial expansion, its business leaders collected and displayed European and Asian art to convey their emerging power and status.
Sir William Van Horne (1843-1915), the American-born builder of the Canadian Pacific Railway, was one such collector. While the public rooms of his Montreal mansion included masterpieces by Rembrandt, Turner, and others, he confessed to loving the Japanese ceramics in his private study most of all.
The opening of Japan after 1854 sparked a fashion in the West for collecting Japanese objets d’art including ceramics. Some scholars and dealers soon became fascinated by the bowls, jars, and vases made for domestic use rather than export, seeing them as more authentic. Van Horne became passionate about these modest pots, assembling a collection of over 1,200 examples.
This exhibition reunites for the first time what survives of Van Horne’s collection, alongside his exacting watercolors, elaborately annotated notebooks, letters, and related archival material. Together, these artifacts offer a remarkable case study in the history of collecting in late-19th century Montreal, highlighting Van Horne’s place in an international network of connoisseurs and the imperialist impulses behind his taxonomic acquisitiveness. Above all, they reveal the little-known obsession of one of the greatest collectors in Canadian history.
Obsession: Sir William Van Horne’s Japanese Ceramics is organized by the Gardiner Museum in partnership with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. This exhibition includes artifacts generously provided by the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. It is guest curated by Ron Graham and Akiko Takesue, assistant guest-curator, with exhibition design by Hariri Pontarini Architects and graphics by HM&E. This project is supported by Canadian Pacific and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Museum Assistance Program.
Exhibition Programs & Events
Saturday October 20, 9 am – 12 pm
Co-curators Ron Graham and Akiko Takesue, alongside catalogue contributor Laura Vigo, Curator of Asian Arts at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, will discuss the exhibition themes in a mini-symposium before the exhibition opens to the public.
$15 General / Free Gardiner Friends
Saturday October 20, 10 am – 5 pm
Friends Day: Obsession
Gardiner Friends are invited to bring their friends and guests for a full day of free admission to the exhibition Obsession: Sir William Van Horne’s Japanese Ceramics. As a Gardiner Friend, you can bring unlimited guests free of charge on this day!
Tuesday October 23, 6:30 – 8 pm
From Sèvres to Fifth Avenue: Ceramics at the Frick
Like Van Horne, Henry Clay Frick was a significant industrialist in the early part of the 20th century who built a significant private collection from his wealth. As part of the Gardiner Signature Lecture series, we’ve invited Ian Wardropper, Director of the Frick Museum, to speak on the formation of Frick’s collection
$18 General / $15 Gardiner Friends
Tuesday October 30, 6 – 8 pm
Watercolour Workshop (Beginner)
Led by artist and illustrator Louise Reimer, this intimate in-gallery session for beginner watercolourists will find inspiration in Van Horne’s collection of Japanese ceramics
$45 General / $38 Gardiner Friends
Saturday November 3, 1 – 3 pm
Maker Break: Secret Teatime
Led by artists Sorlie Madox and Helen Kong of Secret Teatime, visitors will be able to partake in a Japanese tea ceremony (also referred to as “Chado”) using Secret Teatime’s custom tea bowls, followed by a matcha tea service with accompanying sweets.
$30 General / $25 Gardiner Friends
Wednesday November 7, 6:30 – 8 pm
Power and Possession: The Ethics of Collecting
Hosted by Sean O’Neill of CBC’s In The Making, this panel will dive into how issues of appropriation and repatriation are shifting how we frame and exhibit significant historical materials.
$18 General / $15 Gardiner Friends
Sunday November 11, 10 am – 4 pm
Institutional Critique Teach-In
What does it mean to display a historical collection’s imperialist impulse? Artist Amy Wong, alongside moderator Amy Lam, leads this workshop intensive to unpack the demand for QBIPOC arts labour to drive institutional critique.
Tuesday January 15, 6 – 8 pm
Watercolour Workshop (Intermediate)
Led by artist and illustrator Louise Reimer, this intimate in-gallery session for intermediate watercolourists will find inspiration in Van Horne’s collection of Japanese ceramics
$40 General / $34 Gardiner Friends
Saturday January 12, 1 – 4 pm
Amy Wong and Amy Lam: Teach-In Edition Launch
Join us for the launch of artists Amy Wong and Amy Lam’s limited edition book jacket for the Obsession catalogue.
Exhibition Design Partner
Header image: Tea bowl with design of baton, Kyoto ware, Kyoto, False seal of “Ninsei”, Edo-Meiji period, 19c., Stoneware, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts 1944.Ee.6, Adaline Van Horne Bequest
111 Queen's Park
Canada, M5S 2C7