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Warm up this winter with magical performances, talks and screenings at the AGO

Season of programs features artists, writers and activists including Hilton Als, Desmond Cole, David Benn, Margaret Priest and Jolene Rickard


The AGO presents its winter season of talks, performances, readings, screenings, events and courses. These programs present creative thinkers, makers and performers, welcoming them to the museum and showcasing their work – and the thinking that is shaping our world today. Inspired by the Golden Age of magic explored in the upcoming exhibition Illusions: The Art of Magic and the iconic photographs of Diane Arbus, the AGO’s winter program has plenty of tricks up its sleeve.

Made possible with generous support from TD and the Ready Commitment, highlights from the AGO’s winter season are listed below and include a talk by The New Yorker writer Hilton Als, silent films starring Houdini and free magic shows presented by the Toronto Magic Company.

For information about these and all upcoming AGO programs, including screening times and ticketing details, visit All programs are on sale now. AGO Members receive a discount on ticketed programs, courses and summer camps. For more information on how to become a Member, visit today. AGO Annual Passes provide unlimited entry for an entire year, including access to any programs that are free with admission. Annual Passes are $25 and free for visitors 25 and under.

AGO Futures: Talks and Screenings
As the imaginative centre of the city, the AGO is committed to leading global conversations from Toronto. Featuring book launches, poetry readings and talks from artists, scholars and community leaders, highlights from the AGO Futures series this winter include:

  • Leading art historian, artist and curator Jolene Rickard comes to the AGO on Jan. 22, 2020 to deliver this year’s McCready Lecture on Canadian Art. An Associate Professor from Cornell University, Rickard’s talk will explore Indigenous art history and aesthetics.  This lecture is free but tickets must be booked in advance.
  • As museums strive to become more inclusive, join award-winning journalist, author and activist Desmond Cole on Feb. 5, 2020 at 7 p.m. in Baillie Court for a conversation about anti-Black racism in Canada today. This lecture is free but tickets must be reserved in advance.
  • Renowned for her vulnerable, hyper-saturated images, New York-based photographer and filmmaker Hobbes Ginsberg comes to Jackman Hall on Feb. 28, 2020 at 7 p.m. to give an illustrated talk about contemporary photography, portraiture and the subversive potential of the selfie.  Tickets to this artist talk are free, but need to be booked in advance.
  • Join Toronto-based fashion and editorial photographer Othello Grey in Baillie Court on March 4, 2020 at 7 p.m. for a conversation about his work, and the role of photography in normalizing black faces and bodies.  His work has been featured in publications like The New York Times, Vogue, ID, and SSENSE.  Tickets to this artist talk are free, but need to be booked in advance.
  • Celebrated Canadian artist Margaret Priest returns to the AGO on March 13, 2020 for an illustrated talk. Works from Priest’s The Monument to Construction Workers series are currently on view in the J.S. Mclean Centre for Indigenous & Canadian Art.  Tickets to this talk are free, but must be booked in advance.
  • On March 25, 2020 at 7 p.m., Walker Court hosts the launch of four new works by leading Canadian poets. Featuring readings and book signings, this free event celebrates the publication of What Hurts Going Down by Nancy Lee, The Dyzgraphist by Canisia Lubrin, Washes, Prays by Noor Naga and Burning Province by Michael Prior.

AGO Live
From dance to music and visual art, AGO Live brings performances by local and international performers to the museum. The series continues this winter with the following events:

  • After appearing at the Venice Biennale, Grandmother Mago premieres in Canada at the AGO on Jan. 15, 2020 at 7 p.m. and again on Jan. 16, 2020 at 4 p.m.  A collaborative work led by West Coast artist Zadie Xa, this dramatic processional through the museum will feature live acoustic drumming, dance, costumes and painted sculptural elements.
  • Join us for Music in the Galleries, beginning Jan. 19, 2020 at 2 p.m. and continuing every third Sunday through May, featuring students from the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music. Featuring musical repertoire inspired by the AGO’s European Collection, these are free performances with admission.
  • On March 4 and 6, 2020 the AGO’s European galleries host Slow Death, an all-new performance by artist, choreographer and dancer Marie Lambin-Gagnon. Audiences will follow three dancers on an emotional journey through two galleries, against a backdrop of 16th century art, found objects, electronic music and colourful fabrics.

Exhibition-related Programs

Illusions: The Art of Magic
Abracadabra! Illusions: The Art of Magic opens at the AGO on Feb. 22, 2020, showcasing rare posters and artifacts from the Golden Age of Magic of over 100 years ago. To celebrate, the AGO is inviting visitors of all ages to step right up and be amazed at a series of live talks, films, performances and events. Highlights include:

  • Visitors to Illusions: The Art of Magic are in for a mesmerizing surprise. Throughout the run of the exhibition, performers from the Toronto Magic Company will take the in-exhibition stage daily to perform a spellbinding series of live magic shows. Free with admission.
  • Join world-renowned, Toronto-based conjuror, magic historian and guest curator David Ben on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020 at 7 p.m. in Baillie Court to learn more about the fascinating performers who pulled greatness from thin air during the Golden Age of Magic.
  • Julie Eng grew up in her family’s Toronto magic shop, learning the tricks of the trade from her father. As a women working in a male dominated field, learn what it’s like to live a life full of magic on Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at 7 p.m. in Jackman Hall.
  • You may know Houdini for his death-defying stunts and mind-bending illusions, but did you know he was also a silent film star? This winter, the AGO’s Jackman Hall theatre will feature several screenings of films directed by and starring Houdini including Haldane of the Secret Service and Man from Beyond and Houdini. For show times and tickets, visit


Diane Arbus: Photographs, 1956–1971
Legendary American photographer Diane Arbus revolutionized portraiture through her range of subjects and her style. Featuring 150 of these iconic images, Diane Arbus: Photographs 1956–1971 opens on the same day as Illusions: the Art of Magic. Highlights of exhibition-inspired programming are below:

  • A Slideshow and Talk by Diane Arbus is the only voice recording of the artist currently in existence. Originally recorded in 1970, this video presentation allows visitors to hear the late artist speak on her own work, and on photography as a whole. Don’t miss back to back rare screenings, one day ahead of the exhibition opening, on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Jackman Hall.
  • Hilton Als is a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, a professor at Columbia University and a staff writer for The New Yorker. A leading voice on arts and culture in America, Als comes to the AGO’s Baillie Court on Friday, March 20, 2020 at 7 p.m. to discuss the life and work of Diane Arbus.
  • On Wednesday, Apr. 8, 2020 at 7 p.m. in Baillie Court join the AGO’s Curator of Photography Sophie Hackett for a talk about Diane Arbus: Photographs 1956–1971. Illustrated with photographs from the exhibition, Hackett will explore the history and reception of these now iconic images.

Hito Steyerl: This is the future
A talk and film series entitled Hito Steyerl: Mixed Methods invites artists and thinkers from a range of disciplines to explore topics inspired by the current AGO exhibition Hito Steyerl: This is the future. This series is generously supported by Eleanor & Francis Shen. Highlights include: 

  • Beginning Jan. 10, 2020, the Hito Steyerl: Mixed Methods film series offers up an exciting line-up of documentary films, including the Academy Award winning documentary Citizenfour and rarely screened Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 to Jackman Hall. For screening times and descriptions, visit
  • How do we regain control when technology has an ever-stronger grip on our everyday lives? Bianca Wylie, a leading technology critic and advocate for the open government movement, has a few ideas. Join her for a free in-gallery talk on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020 on Level 5 of the Vivian & David Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art at the AGO.

AGO All Hours
AGO All Hours returns on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020 for the third installment of this all-day, all-ages, art experience. Guest curated by students from the OCADU MFA program, the theme for this fun-packed day is Cozy Hibernation. Free with admission, a full programming line-up for this exciting day with be announced in the new year.

Family Fun at the AGO
Admission to the AGO is free for visitors 25 and under, making it an ideal destination this winter for the whole family. The Dr. Mariano Elia Hands-On Centre offers creative play for children 5 and under, and is open six days a week, with extended hours on weekends. Other exciting family events include: 

  • Join the AGO for four days of Family Day celebrations and art making beginning on Friday, February 14, 2020. Free with admission, the event will mark the public debut of an interactive artwork by AGO artist-in-residence Ness Lee.  Family Day programming is generously supported by lead sponsor, MadeGood.
  • The AGO comes alive with nine straight days of family fun this March Break. Inspired by the Golden Age of Magic, drop-in programming will run daily, every day from Saturday, March 14 – Sunday, March 22, 2020. Programming is free with admission, and visitors 25 and under are free.  March Break programming is generously supported by lead sponsor, MadeGood.
  • Beat the winter blues and enjoy a full afternoon of art-making and exploration every Sunday at the AGO. With new themes and activities each month, Family Sundays run from 1 – 4 p.m. and are free with general admission.  Family Sundays programming is generously supported by Janis Rotman. 
  • Summer may seem ages away, but spots in the AGO’s innovative Art Camp go on sale in January. With one and two-week camps available for children ages 5-13, you can find more information online

Youth Drop-in Programs
Launched last spring, the AGO’s new admission policy means visitors aged 25 and under are now free, anytime! Youth Drop in Programs begin the week Jan. 14 and provide youth with free opportunities to network, learn new skills and experiment, no registration required. Highlights include:

  • Blank Canvas returns to the AGO starting on Jan. 14, 2020 with an exciting series of free weekly panels, events and workshops geared towards emerging artists, aged 14 to 25. Full details are available online at    
  • Youth can sashay and slay every Wednesday, beginning Jan. 15, 2020 from 4 – 7 p.m. in the Weston Family Learning Centre with a free Vogue Dancing workshop led by the Kiki Ballroom Dance Alliance.
  • Children & Youth courses continue throughout the winter for artists of all ages. Inspired by the lithograph posters on view in Illusions: Art of Magic, students from 11-13 are invited to learn all about screen printing and dry point in the introduction to printmaking and poster art courses. Information on all Children and Youth courses can be found online at  

All AGO Youth programs are generously supported by Robert Harding & Angel Yang and Nancy E.A. Main with assistance from The Lloyd Carr-Harris Foundation and Nordstrom.

Talks, Screenings and Performances are generously supported by:

Lead Sponsor: TD Bank Group through The Ready Commitment

Located in Toronto, Canada’s largest city of 5.9 million, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is one of the largest art museums in North America. The AGO Collection of close to 95,000 works ranges from cutting-edge contemporary art to significant works by Indigenous and Canadian artists and European masterpieces. The AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, taking special care to showcase diverse and underrepresented artists. Its 585,000 square foot building was most recently expanded in 2008 by Frank Gehry, and attracts approximately one million visits per year. A new pricing model launched in May 2019 offers all visitors 25 and under free, unlimited admission; a $35 Annual Pass includes entry for an entire year. Visit to learn more.

The AGO is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO Members, donors and private-sector partners.

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