As our city eases up with restrictions it’s only a matter of time when we can re-visit and re-discover the best of the the city fully. The Gardiner Museum is preparing for re-opening but in the meantime, they’ve cleverly found ways to still offer us inspiring ways to enjoy the space by taking the museum experience outdoors this summer. Gardiner Goes Outside is already breaking down barriers and offering a refreshing way to be able to still escape the day-to-day at one of the most tranquil spaces in the city.
When you approach the front garden area of the Gardiner Museum a self-guided tour is offered by scanning the QR code. Learn about the two popular sculptures and the grounds that welcome visitors. The grand 9-foot sculpture ‘Cracked Wheat’ by Toronto-based artist Shary Boyle reimagines the 18th century European decorative tradition of ormolu with gold painted cracks that also pays homage to 16th century Japanese tradition of Kintsugi that acknowledges an object’s history – everything is cherished, broken and repaired. Kin (gold) and Tsugi (join) reflects that every crack and repair is a life event and symbolic.
The adjacent monumental black and white striped head sculpture by Japanese American artist Jun Kaneko is one of the most photographed artworks in the area. The artist who’s known for his large-scale sculptures and installation created this 6-foot tall piece ‘Untitled’ (Head) using glazed ceramic and sits on a galvanized steel table at the front entrance. His giant head installations are popular around the world and can be found in New York, Tokyo, and San Francisco.
Be also on the look out for pop-up window exhibitions where the Gardiner will bring pieces in the collection to the forefront. With the reimagining of the Linda Frum & Howard Sokolowski Plaza and the Laura Dinner and Richard Rooney Community Clay Studio, we’ll all have a chance to explore the outdoor space through public art projects, live performances, lectures, wellness workshops and family clay activities as the summer continues on (all for free) and the anticipation of the city moving to Phase 3 openings. By the way, the outdoor family clay workshops begin July 7 including the Clay Bird Making activity that is part of David Constantino Salazar’s public art project Forever (Bird Botanicals) exploring the themes of freedom, growth and renewal. Full schedule of what’s happening and health/safety protocol can be found here.
You can also explore the collections digitally at your leisure through their site. But also be sure to take a look at the community art space, Pillars of Change. The Gardiner Museum and No.9 Contemporary Art & The Environment have partnered to help amplify the work of prominent and emerging BIPOC and 2SLGBTQ+ identifying artists. Each artist has created poster artwork and invite the public to customize, share and have the chance to be featured across the city on digital billboards. More details here pillarsofchange.art
But one of the most cherished spots not just at the museum but in the city is the Gardiner Museum’s signature Clay Restaurant. Perched above the street level on the rooftop is one of the most delightful and serene patio spaces in the city.
Chef Bianca Azupardo brings an impressive range of experience (O&B Restaurants, The Distillery Group, and The Food Dudes) to the table. Her inspiring dishes are creative yet familiar. Currently find include ‘Fish & Chips’ created with Steamwhistle Beer Batter, Fogo Island Cod and the popular Smashed Burger — a favourite along side their highly additive Russet Fries The re-opened lunch time patio is an escape from the busy streets with a warm and inviting staff and menu. All reminders of why we love eating at restaurants in the first place – not only to food our tummies but our mind and souls. Dishes are lovingly presented with meticulous care. Dishes that whisper “we’ve missed you” and you are just ridiculously happy to be back to savour every blissful moment. Definitely order the Confit Chicken Baos and the gorgeous and fresh Smoked Salmon on the Everything Seed, Roe, PotatoRosti. We strongly encourage table reservations (currently for up to six people) be made in advance.
But if you’re still not comfortable in dining out you can still order from the Clay Restaurant menu for pick up at the front museum’s garden patio at street level.
Be sure to follow The Gardiner Museum on their social media platforms for updates on what’s happening.