View of “Mindful Makers,” a collaborative exhibition and workshop at the Art Gallery of Ontario that was developed with local artist and muralist Cindy Scaife. Photo: the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Art Gallery of Ontario Aims to Attract Younger Audience with New Admissions Policy

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has announced that it is making “bold and exciting changes” to help diversify its audience. Starting on May 25, the institution will admit visitors who are twenty-five and under for free, including to special exhibitions. For visitors over twenty-five years of age, tickets will cost $25 ($18.50 USD). The institution is also launching a new annual pass that provides unlimited museum admission for a year for $35 ($25.96 USD).

“The goal is to make it easier for everyone to make art a part of their everyday lives,” AGO director and CEO Stephan Jost said in a statement. “We will test and learn from this new model over the coming year, with the goals of increasing engagement with our audiences, and also gaining new understandings of visitor patterns that will help us better meet their needs.”

According to the Toronto Star, the pilot program, which was introduced as part of an initiative to make the museum more affordable, was partially inspired by the long lines to get in on Wednesday nights, when the AGO is free for all. The institution raised $1.8 million to support the new pricing structure, which will be reevaluated at the six-month mark to ensure the AGO can remain in good financial health under the new policy—the museum currently obtains a third of its budget from ticket sales.

The AGO’s membership levels will remain the same. Anyone who becomes a member will have the opportunity to enjoy special benefits, such as exclusive previews of exhibitions, access to a members-only lounge, and other discounts, in exchange for their support.

“Great cities deserve great civic spaces, and increasing access to the AGO will make the museum a more welcoming and inclusive place for all,” Jost added. “Thank you to AGO members, donors, sponsors, and partners for allowing us to break down barriers in truly meaningful ways.”