Unique art galleries and museums in Toronto
Dive into technology, media, storytelling, art and craft at these new, notable and not-as-well-known cultural gems.
Illusions & Mirrors
Located in the heart of downtown, Museum of Illusions features over 80 brain-teasing exhibits such as tilted rooms, vortex tunnels, reverse rooms, holograms, edgy art and more. It’s an Instagrammer’s dream.
Location: 123 Front Street East
Contemporary Art & Design
The Museum of Contemporary Art is housed on the first five floors of the historic Tower Automotive Building in the hip west end neighbourhood of the Junction. MOCA serves as a culture hub, aiming to reshape Toronto’s art scene from its new digs.
Location: 158 Sterling Road
Expand your mind with more thought-provoking expression at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery on the Harbourfront. Devoted to contemporary visual art from Canada and worldwide, the public gallery offers free admission year-round.
Location: 231 Queens Quay West
The contemporary collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has been growing and transforming since 1960 with international and Canadian work including painting, sculpture, immersive installation, works on paper, photography, performance, video and sound art.
Location: 317 Dundas Street West
Culture vultures need to visit the Museum of New, tucked away in a laneway beside Trinity Bellwoods Park. Originally established for the New New Painters collective, this little gem hosts forward-thinking artists and shows that challenge established views. Open Saturdays only, you’ll need to call ahead to book an appointment.
Location: 123 Bellwoods Avenue
If design is your jam, make tracks to the Design Exchange, Canada’s only design museum dedicated to creativity and innovation. It’s located in the old Toronto Stock Exchange building, and featured in the lobby is a mini-exhibit, DXUncrated, a selection from the permanent collection.
Location: 234 Bay Street
Entertainment & Media
Toronto professor and intellect Marshall McLuhan famously coined ‘the medium is the message.’ The MZTV Museum of Television and Archives in Liberty Village tells the story of this impactful medium with a comprehensive collection of sets from the 1920s to the 1970s, along with other TV memorabilia.
Location: 64 Jefferson Avenue
In the heart of the entertainment district, the eclectic TIFF Bell Lightbox is a cinephile’s paradise. It's home to a film reference library, a Canadian film gallery, special events, screenings, workshops, and of course, it’s the epicentre of the annual Toronto International Film Festival.
Location: 350 King Street West
Love the medium of print? The Toronto Reference Library boasts one of the world’s most extensive works by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the genius who delivered us Sherlock Holmes. Located on the 5th floor in the Marilyn & Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre is a room designed and decorated to reflect our favourite detective’s study on Baker Street and hosts all of Doyle’s masterpieces. Elementary!
Location: 789 Yonge Street
If you want to blow minds at your book club, check out the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto. It’s the most extensive collection of rare books and manuscripts in Canada. The library even contains annotated books by local legend McLuhan himself, which you’re allowed to thumb through.
Location: 120 St George Street
Arts & Craft
Craft Ontario celebrates professional craftspeople with an assortment of unique, handmade clay, glass, metal and wood one-of-a-kinds to admire or purchase. Their Space Gallery Craft Shop also represents Inuit and Indigenous art and should be a must-visit as an art gallery in Toronto.
Location: 1106 Queen Street West
The Gardiner Museum pays homage to the ceramic arts with a fascinating permanent collection and travelling exhibits. This fantastic place takes a literal approach to hands-on with drop-in, open-studio clay classes.
Location: 111 Queen’s Park
For those of us who like to touch, The Textile Museum of Canada is a lovingly curated collection of fabrics, garments, carpets, and quilts from around the world, including some pretty interesting cultural and ceremonial artifacts. Sunday guests will be treated to free tours at 2 p.m., while Wednesday evening admission is pay-what-you-can.
Location: 55 Centre Avenue
Last updated: September 14, 2023