Home / News & Media / Press Releases / New major exhibition at Gardiner Museum transports visitors to the multicultural metropolis of Renaissance Venice

New major exhibition at Gardiner Museum transports visitors to the multicultural metropolis of Renaissance Venice

1 year ago

Renaissance Venice: Life and Luxury at the Crossroads recreates a sensory world of more than 110 objects, including Chinese porcelain, Islamic metalware, Venetian ceramics and glass, and contemporary art

Toronto—Renaissance Venice was a multicultural metropolis at the intersection of trade routes linking Europe to the Islamic World, with pigments, spices, and luxury objects flowing through the city. This fall, the Gardiner invites visitors to discover the lives of Venetians across the social spectrum, from tradespeople to wealthy elites. Lush, theatrical sets and digital animations will transport visitors to the Floating City. Step into the workshop of the potter-entrepreneur and uncover a counter-narrative about the experiences of Renaissance women.

Renaissance Venice: Life and Luxury at the Crossroads recreates a sensory world of more than 110 objects, ranging from Chinese porcelain and Islamic metalware to Venetian textiles and glass. Ceramics from the Gardiner’s collection are displayed alongside objects from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Corning Museum of Glass, The Royal Ontario Museum, the Aga Khan Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Bata Shoe Museum, among other lending institutions and private collections.

The exhibition opens to Gardiner Friends on October 13 and to Get Acquainted pass holders and the general public on October 14.

At the forefront is the story of Venice’s maiolica industry as it developed throughout the 1500s, and the role of ceramics in encapsulating cultural exchanges and intersections. A type of tin-glazed earthenware, maiolica provides a unique point of entry into the city’s cultural and material world, shaped by migration and diversity, with deep resonance in our contemporary society.

“A global city in constant movement, Renaissance Venice parallels our own lives in many ways,” says Senior Curator Karine Tsoumis. “Works by contemporary artists Lindsay Montgomery, Dorie Millerson, and Nadia Myre expand upon the connections between the present and the legacies of the past. Each brings a feminist critique that focuses, respectively, on story-telling traditions, domestic labour and exploitation, and Venice’s symbolic connection to the Americas and Indigenous Peoples through printed publications.”

“In the same way that Toronto’s vibrant cultural scene has been shaped by people from all over the world who now call this city home, the enduring artistic legacy of Renaissance Venice sprang from the city’s great diversity,” says Kelvin Browne, Executive Director and CEO of the Gardiner Museum.

Renaissance Venice: Life and Luxury at the Crossroads runs from October 14, 2021 to January 9, 2022. Admission is free for Gardiner Friends and Get Acquainted pass holders, students with valid ID, and visitors aged 18 and under.

The exhibition is presented in English and French, and is accompanied by a catalogue published by Hirmer Art Publishers.

For more information visit gardinermuseum.com.


Free and ticketed exhibition programs will appear on our website as they open for registration.

Curator Tour
Wednesday October 27, 12 – 1 pm
$21 Gardiner Friends | $25 General
Discover the exhibition alongside curator Dr. Karine Tsoumis.

Curator Tour (French Language)
Wednesday October 27, 5 – 6 pm, Wednesday December 15, 5 – 6 pm
$21 Gardiner Friends | $25 General
Découvrez La Renaissance à Venise: Carrefour du luxe et de la vie en compagnie de Dr. Karine Tsoumis, commissaire de l’exposition.

Chinese Porcelain in Venice: From Marco Polo to Maestro Jacomo
Thursday October 28, 1 – 2 pm
Free online registration
Dr. Karine Tsoumis will explore the journey of porcelain from China to Venice.

Preserving Artistic Heritage: An Evening with Save Venice
Supported by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Toronto
Thursday November 4, 6 – 7:30 pm
$21 Gardiner Friends | $25 General
Dr. Karine Tsoumis will sit down with Christopher Apostle, Project Director at Save Venice, to discuss the work being done to restore and protect maiolica in Venice today.

3 Works: Nadia Myre
Tuesday November 9, 1 – 2 pm
Free online registration
Nadia Myre, a visual artist from Quebec and an Algonquin member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinaabeg First Nation, will discuss three of her artworks in depth with Chief Curator & Deputy Director Sequoia Miller.

Highlight Tour with Dorie Millerson
Wednesday November 24, 12 – 1 pm
$21 Gardiner Friends | $25 General
Join Dr. Karine Tsoumis for a special tour in conversation with exhibiting artist Dorie Millerson, Associate Professor, Material Art & Design, Faculty of Design, OCAD University.

Highlight Tour with Karine Tsoumis: From Lacemakers to Courtesans
Wednesday November 24, 5 – 6 pm
$21 Gardiner Friends | $25 General
Step into the lives of Renaissance women in this special exhibition tour highlighting select objects created by female artisans, owned by women, or conveying ideals of femininity.

Transcultural Earth: Mimetic earthenware and artisanal knowledge between Italy and Asia in the Long Renaissance
Thursday November 25, 1 – 2 pm
Free online registration
Dr Marta Ajmar, Head of Postgraduate Programmes at the V&A, engage will draw on recipe books, treatises, and surviving artefacts to shed light on a little-explored chapter of Italian Renaissance artisanal expertise: pottery glazes.

Virtual Artist Demo with Lindsay Montgomery
Thursday December 2, 1 – 2 pm
Free online registration
Award-winning ceramic artist Lindsay Montgomery is known for her contemporary interpretations of Medieval and Renaissance imagery. Watch her stream live from the studio and get a peek into her fascinating process.

Questioning Quarantine in the Jewish Ghetto of Venice
Thursday December 9, 1 – 2 pm
Free online registration
Dana E. Katz, Joshua C. Taylor Professor of Art History and Humanities at Reed College, explores the concept of quarantine as it relates to the enforced residential restriction of the Venetian Jewish ghetto.

Highlight Tour with Dr. Fahmida Suleman
Wednesday December 15, 12 – 1 pm
$21 Gardiner Friends | $25 General
Join Dr. Karine Tsoumis for a special tour in conversation with Dr. Fahmida Suleman, Curator of the Islamic World at the Royal Ontario Museum, who will discuss a selection of Islamic artworks featured in the exhibition.


The Gardiner Museum brings together people of all ages and backgrounds through the shared values of creativity, wonder, and community that clay and ceramic traditions inspire.

The Gardiner Museum’s collection of ceramics comprises approximately 4,000 objects, and focuses on specific areas which have been collected in depth. These include a world-renowned collection of European porcelain, with particular strengths in Meissen, Vienna, and Hausmaler decorated porcelain, as well as a comprehensive collection of figures inspired by the commedia dell’arte. It holds the preeminent collection of Italian Renaissance maiolica in Canada, and a superb collection of English tin-glazed pottery. The Gardiner preserves highly significant collections of ceramics from the Ancient Americas, Chinese blue and white porcelain, Japanese porcelain, and contemporary Canadian ceramics. It also houses a research library and archives, clay studios, award-winning Shop, and a restaurant.

The Gardiner Museum is among the few museums in the world focused on ceramics, and is one of the world’s most notable specialty museums. For more information, please visit: gardinermuseum.com.


Media Contact:
Rachel Weiner
Senior Manager, Marketing
Gardiner Museum

Co-Presenting Sponsors
Mary Janigan & Tom Kierans
David Staines & Noreen Taylor

Presenting Programs Sponsor
The Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Exhibition Supporting Sponsor
Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation

Official Paint Sponsor

Farrow & Ball logo

Thanks To

Instituto italiano di cultura

Community Partners
Villa Charities

This exhibition includes objects generously provided by the Royal Ontario Museum.

Similar Articles