From 1976, when they started collecting ceramics, to when they decided to share their treasures with the public, George and Helen Gardiner had assembled an astounding collection of pottery from the Ancient Americas and Europe. In 1981, the Ontario government led by Premier William Davis unanimously passed Bill 183 to create The George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art as an independent, public institution. The Gardiners negotiated the lease of a tennis court on the east side of Queen's Park, opposite the Royal Ontario Museum, from Victoria University, part of the University of Toronto. Mr. Gardiner gave the college $500,000 to lease the land for 99 years. The building, designed by Keith Wagland, was opened to the public in 1984. For George Gardiner, it was the accomplishment of a lifetime:
“We all have milestones in our lives which we try to reach. The opening of this museum has been most gratifying, as my wife Helen and I now have an opportunity to share with Canadians, friends, and people from all over the world, one of our great loves—our ceramic collection. Our interest in ceramics started as a form of decoration. Soon we turned into collectors and this gave us the opportunity to do something culturally for our country. I sincerely hope that the museum will provide a centre of study, learning and research for students all over the world. It is my dream come true.”
Do you have a collection? What would you house in your museum? Let us know on Twitter by connecting with us @BloorStCulture & @gardinermuseum, or use the hashtag #BCCstories.