If a Canadian is someone who gets excited when an American television show mentions Canada, then a Torontonian might be someone who gets excited when an international newspaper mentions Toronto. (And yes, we know about that list.)
This weekend’s Financial Times—the pink-paged newspaper of record of the United Kingdom, and the preserve of a diverse readership ranging from corporate bankers to corporate lawyers—devoted 1,500 words and three-quarters of a page of broadsheet to the renovated Art Gallery of Ontario (inspired by our coverage, natch).
It’s always interesting to hear what outsiders make of our city, if only to see what’s knocking around beyond the municipal echo chamber. What does Susan Moore of the FT think?
Well, she’s pretty damn impressed. A “once provincial gallery” (ouch) has been transformed into a “major North American museum” whose collections give “Canadians their first real insight into the richness of their cultural patrimony” and offer “the possibility of an intimate engagement with works of art.” Individual pieces from the Group of Seven and First Nations artists are singled out for praise, and are complemented with references to, among others, the Monumentino and historic ship models.
Two individuals are cited for their contributions. No prizes for guessing who they are, but the first is the late Ken Thomson (a “famously hard bargainer” and “a proud Canadian”), whose donation of several thousand pieces from his private art collection, plus more than $100 million cash, form the foundation of the renovation. The second is Frank Gehry (“Toronto-born” and “one of the world’s most celebrated architects”), whose design maximizes the visual impact of the gallery’s pieces.
We know that we shouldn’t care that much about what others think of us, and our opinions about the AGO aren’t going to change on the basis of one article in one foreign newspaper. But sometimes it’s good to get an objective outsider’s view of our latest municipal project, and in this case it’s nice to know that Toronto can, in spite of the occasional sniping and backbiting, get things right.
Photo by The Cach from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.