The Best Hidden Attraction in Yorkville

Mirvish Village Christmas Tree
Mirvish Village Christmas Tree, designed by Cobi Ladner of Cobistyle

Overshadowed by the much larger ROM stands the Gardiner Museum, a hidden treasure that houses one of the world’s oldest art forms – ceramics.

The elegant modern limestone building by KPMB Architects was awarded the Pug Award in 2006 for Best Commercial Architecture. The Gardiner is luxurious and spare – a world class building. Outside the museum entrance is a giant head made of glazed ceramic, which sits on a galvanized steel table. It shows what splendid things can be made with clay and is a fitting introduction to what is inside the building.

Mirvish Village Christmas Tree
Christmas Tree #1 designed by Cobi Ladner of Cobistyle

The Museum’s collections span continents and time, giving a glimpse into the development of ceramics. Walk through this attraction and discover:

Ancient Americas  the vessels, animals and human figures are evidence of the inventiveness and skill of ancient people who worked with earthenware clay.

Chinese & Japanese porcelain – the history of porcelain as it developed in Asia and its remarkable influence on the West.

English & European porcelain – the European response to the importation of Asian porcelain.

Commedia dell’Arte – figures from the popular 16th-century Italian theatrical productions. Harlequin, Columbine, and Pierrot are a few of the amusing figurines in this popular exhibit.

Scent Bottles – an astonishing collection of tiny 18th-century scent receptacles.

Plus contemporary works and more.


Presented by Soundstreams, in partnership with the Gardiner Museum, Salon 21 is a performance and lecture series featuring and showcasing the work of contemporary Canadian and international composers. Salon 21 takes place every third Friday of the month. The evening commences at 7 p.m. with a music related presentation followed by musical performances at 7:30 p.m. Entrance is free with Gardiner Museum admission.

Forest Hill Christmas Tree
Christmas Tree #2 designed by Robert Tanz of Robert Tanz Interior Design

Hands-On Activities

Whether you are a tourist in the city or live in Toronto, take a class in the state-of-the-art clay studios. Sign up for a class and let a professional help you develop your skills in wheel throwing, clay sculpture, coil, and slab building. This is a wonderful way to experiment and express your artistic side (we all have some creativity) and is an excellent family experience.

Isn’t taking home something you made yourself the best souvenir of all?

The Gardiner Museum Stoneware class is the best kept secret in Toronto.

Classes are every Friday from 6 – 8 p.m. and Sunday from 1 – 3 p.m. 

Special Exhibits

The Gardiner has several special exhibits per year including the annual 12 Trees. Toronto’s favourite neighbourhoods are re-imagined and one-of-a-kind Christmas trees glitter throughout the galleries. In this urban spin on a festive tradition, the city’s top designers take their favourite neighbourhoods as their inspiration and reinvent the Christmas Tree with a Toronto twist.

Feel festive as you see design stars such as Steven Sabados & Chris Hyndman of CBC’s Steven and Chris, Pink Tartan’s Kimberley Newport-Mimran and Cobi Ladner of Cobistyle create versions of LeslievilleMink MileMirvish Village and more!

How well do you know Toronto? Try guessing the neighbourhood each fabulous designer Christmas tree represents. (See answers below.)

12 Trees runs November 12 to December 14, 2014.

Four Seasons Yorkville Tree
Christmas Tree #3 designed Teatro Verde, Shawn Gibson & Michael Pellegrino


Nothing completes a museum experience like relaxing in a restaurant and enjoying a delicious dinner or even just a dessert with coffee. The remarkable Gardiner Bistro has floor-to-ceiling windows providing spectacular views up and down Queen’s Park and across to the Royal Ontario Museum. This beautiful view is extra special when the ROM interior is illuminated with colourful party lights during Friday Nights at the ROM. The Bistro offers a magical view of the city.

The stunning space is also available for event rentals such as corporate events and weddings.


Leave with an exquisite souvenir or gift – visit the Gardiner Shop, which specializes in artist-designed, artist-made merchandise.

Visit this jewel

If you are short of time this little gem doesn’t demand more than an hour for the casual visitor, while offering a treasure trove for the more serious ceramics enthusiast or collector. This highly enjoyable specialty museum possesses some exquisite objects and is central to other attractions. Make sure this is on your things to do in Toronto list.

This enchanting attraction is just outside the Museum subway stop and just a quick walk from the Bloor or Yonge subway lines.
Love a bargain? Entry is half price between 4 and 9 p.m. on Fridays.

Tree #1

Neighbourhood:  Mirvish Village
Designer: Cobi Ladner of Cobistyle

Tree #2

Neighbourhood:  Forest Hill Village
Designer: Robert Tanz of Robert Tanz Interior Design

Tree #3

Neighbourhood: The Four Seasons in Bloor-Yorkville
Designer: Teatro Verde, Shawn Gibson & Michael Pellegrino
With each season, Yorkville takes on the mood and fashion of the seasons. This tree explores these familiar transitions. Start at the bottom of the tree with the bronzy brown story of Autumn, move into a silvery icy winter, a rosy spring, and a golden summer.

Gardiner Museum
111 Queen’s Park


  1. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked past the Gardiner Museum and never paid a visit. I’m not a very good Torontonian, huh? I had no idea you could dine there, too! Thanks for sharing this. Visiting this museum is now on my to-do list.

  2. Wow!! Never heard of such a museum before and I bet even my sister won’t be aware of it either, even though she has been living in Toronto for six years. I’m visiting my sister this holiday and I think I’ll surprise her by taking to this place. We have rented a furnished suite and I guess the museum is just few minutes’ drive from the place of stay. Once again thanks a lot for such a wonderful post.

  3. The Gardiner museum is a decent size so it is funny how it gets overlooked. I’m glad it is getting some attention now!

    Thank you for reading my post!


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