|Address||111 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C7, Canada|
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The Gardiner Museum is Canada’s national museum of ceramics. It is one of a small number of specialized museums of ceramics in the world.
Ceramic is the term we use to describe any object, whether created for practical, ritual, or ornamental use, that is made of clay and fired. There are many different types of ceramic; each defined by its material and sometimes by the way it is decorated or fired.
The Gardiner Museum was established in 1984 by George and Helen Gardiner, whose founding collection set the pattern for the future. Rather than building an encyclopedic collection, the Gardiners focused on specific areas of ceramic excellence which they collected in depth. Their collection was divided into two principal areas: Earthenwares, represented by ceramics from the Ancient Americas (pre-colonial America), Italian Renaissance maiolica, and English delftware; and Porcelain, with a focus on European porcelain of the 18th century, including specialized collections of Commedia dell’Arte figures and scent bottles.
Over the past thirty years, the Gardiner Museum’s collection has expanded its European holdings to include creamware, French faïence, and 19th-century ceramics with a focus on Minton and wares for the Canadian market. Additional important specialties include Asian, modern, and contemporary ceramics.
Between 1987 and 1996 it was managed by the Royal Ontario Museum, but a generous endowment from George Gardiner allowed it to regain its independence.
Attendance, membership, and program participation more than doubled over the next seven years, and the Gardiner Museum became an important centre for ceramics in North America. The Museum was closed from 2004 to 2006 for a major expansion. Today the Museum boasts an expanding permanent collection, a full schedule of exhibitions and programs, and a growing audience.