Notes from visit (as visitor) to AGO (April 21, 2009)

Art Gallery of Ontario
- Relatively large museum with a focus on artwork
- Many exhibitions on at once
- Segregated spaces of the museum(European, Canadian, Contemporary, etc.), though pieces do overlap between the spaces. Some pieces are also "intermixed" between the spaces to create contrasting juxtaposition, to encourage the visitor to "think" (or so the tour guide claimed)
- Museum map available
    - Provides floor-by-floor layouts of the space, as well as where specific collections reside
- Different spaces of the museumhave different atmospheres. For instance, the older European art space is dimly lit (possibly due to conservation considerations of the older artwork?), in view of no windows, with dark wall colours, standard ceiling height (~10'). The contemporary space is brightly lit, with white walls, and high vaulted celings.
    - Visitors are distinctly aware of entering one space versus another even without signage
- Side note: cameras weren't allowed for taking photos of artwork (because of copyright issues, I was told), but were allowed for taking pictures of the interior architecture of the building. But I was stopped by security three times (different floors each time; no sense in getting caught by the same security guard multiple times) for taking pictures of signage (because it wasn't architecture, I was told).
- No audio tours as of yet (soon though, I was told), though there were scheduled tour guides to guide you through the space and collection
- Everything seemed to have a label or a name: the staircases, the promenades, the atrium, etc.
- On the map, small niches of specific collections were labeled by a three digit number. These numbers were printed on the walls of the space in a surprisingly tiny, we-don't-want-you-to-notice-this-number font. Matching the space on the map to the space in front of you was a bit of an annoyance for me.
- Observation: it's a big museum, with lots of small pockets of space. Exploring without consulting my map led me to lose track of where I was spatially within the museum, though I never felt "lost" per se.
- Types of media/content used in exhibitions:
    - Objects, artifacts (esp. paintings, sculptures) w/ labels
    - Panels of text with commentary (esp. on the art, or the artist)
    - Audio track commentary: some artwork was supplemented by a nearby telephone w/ touchscreen base. Visitors picked up the phone, and picked a commentary track on the screen to listen to. Different tracks were commentaries by (mainly?) non-museumauthorities (e.g., the artist, expert critics, etc.). Alternatively, visitors could use their cellphone to call a number by the telephone to listen to the same commentaries