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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Wu

Anthony Wu is now a Board Member with the Gardiner Museum in Toronto!

Updated: Jun 30

I have some exciting news for everyone! As of March 7th, 2024 I officially joined the Board of the Gardiner Museum! The Gardiner Musuem is one of my favourite museums to visit - not just in Toronto - but around the world. I have been going to this institution since the mid 1990's when my parents would take me there for lunches and a viewing of the galleries.

Founded in 1984 by the philanthropists George and Helen Gardiner, the Gardiner Museum is Canada’s only museum that specializes solely in ceramic art. Despite being much smaller than the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) across the street, the Gardiner has very concise focus on its collections with a goal of providing more intimate access for their visitors.

The major pieces in the permanent collection range from Ancient American sculpture, Italian maiolica earthenware, porcelain for the European court, Japanese export art, and Chinese Ming and Qing Dynasty porcelain.

Between 1987 and 1996 the Gardiner Museum was managed by the ROM, but a further endowment from the Gardiner family allowed the museum to be independent.

In January 2004, the Gardiner Museum closed temporarily to implement a major expansion which allowed them to build a third floor for major touring exhibitions. They also expanded their restaurant (now called Clay Restaurant) which has become an essential lunch spot in downtown Toronto.

From my end, this was a very exciting moment when I was first approached a year ago to join the Gardiner Board. It is almost like coming full circle in joining the 'development' section of the Gardiner Board and being able to support one of the beloved museums I have been visiting for the past 30 years.

View of Toronto's Gardiner Museum located at 111 Queen's Park Circle

Image 1. A view of the Gardiner Museum's main entrance at 111 Queens Park Circle in Toronto.

Late 17th Century Kakiemon-Style Figure of a Bijin from the Collection of William and Molly Ann MacDonald at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto

Image 2. The Gardiner Museum has an extensive collection of Japanese and Chinese ceramics. The Japanese section contains the William and Molly Anne Macdonald Collection of Japanese Porcelain (which includes European works influenced by Japanese prototypes). It is highlighted by this rare Japanese Kakiemon-style standing figure of a bjin (beauty) that is dated to the late 17th Century.

Anthony Wu in front of the Bell Collection of Chinese porcelain at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto

Image 3. The Chinese gallery at the Gardiner Museum is one of my favourite place to visit, even if it is just for a quick 15 minutes. It contains mostly objects from the collection of the late Robert and Murray Ann Bell.

The Bell Collection of Chinese blue and white porcelain is especially well-known around the world. Since the 1960's the Bells would go on buying trips within Toronto and abroad to New York and London. In London, some of their favorite shops were the famous Bluett and Sons and Spink and Sons. They would often host Chinese art collectors, curators and scholars in their Forest Hill home, and in 1998 the collection was donated to the museum.

Qianlong blue and white moonflask from the Gardiner Museum in Toronto

Image 4a. The highlight of the Bell Collection is this magnificent 18th Century Qianlong period blue and white moonflask. It was purchased from Wolfson Antiques in Toronto during the 1960's and has been the focal point of the collection ever since.

This moonflask is based on Central Asian metalware, but has been adapted for the Chinese court taste with its form, blue and white decoration, and Buddhist symbols.

Reign mark of a Qianlong blue and white moonflask from the Gardiner Museum in Toronto

Image 4b. A view of the blue and white moonflask's base and the reign mark 大清乾隆年製 daqing Qianlong nianzhi, which translates to made during the reign of the Qianlong period (1736-1796). You can also see the Gardiner museum accession number which reads G98.9.1.

My immediate plans with the Gardiner Board is to help promote the institution within my circle. I will also be promoting some of their upcoming events such as the International Ceramic Art Fair which starts on May 23, 2024, and the annual Smash Party on May 30, 2024.

Joining the board at the Gardiner is just one of the few posts that I hold. For those not familiar with me, I have been working in the Asian art field for nearly 20 years now. For the past 9 years, I have been an independent Asian art specialist, appraiser and consultant. Some of my qualifications (at the time of writing this blog) include being:

I recently just got back from Asia Week in New York, more of which I will be reporting on in the coming weeks. I'll also be traveling a lot over the next couple of months with stops in Vancouver, London and Hong Kong. You can follow my Asian art adventure through my Instagram feed @anthonywuart.


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