Located on the 2nd floor of all that remains from Toronto’s original 19th century City Hall (1845-1899) that stood on this site on Front Street East, the main display area of the Market Gallery is the former City Council chamber.
1st City Hall: This room had been boarded up and forgotten for almost 75 years after City Hall vacated this building in 1899 for ‘Old City Hall’ at Queen and Bay streets; the south market ‘barn-style’ building we see today was built in 1902. The council chamber was the only room of the 19th century City Hall saved from demolition in 1902. The original exterior brick walls and fan windows of the council chamber were enclosed by the new market building and overlook the main floor of the market whereas once they overlooked Lake Ontario.
Exhibitions: The Market Gallery has presented over 120 exhibitions since it opened, focussing on the art, culture and history of Toronto. A wide-range of exhibits include the following: Black History in Early Ontario, Designing the TTC, St. James and its Neighbours, Regent Park, Toronto Harbour, The Homefront During Two World Wars, Aba Bayefsky, Dreams of Development, Deep into the City: Toronto Ravines and The Provincial Asylums in Toronto and Mimico. These exhibits on Toronto culture and history provide some context for visitors on the growth and development of the city.
Fine Art Collection: The Market Gallery is also the administrative and maintenance centre for the City’s fine art collection of over 2500 works of art. While the art collection is displayed prominently at City Hall and other civic buildings, most historical paintings including portraits of mayors dating back to the 1840s, are stored in the climate-controlled vault on specially-built sliding racks. Before the Market Gallery was established, these portraits were inappropriately and haphazardly stored in various locations, such as the basement of City Hall. Many of the portraits and paintings including Toronto, Canada West 1856 by William Armstrong and View of Toronto (1855) by Mary Meyer were originally acquired and displayed in the very same 19th century City Hall where the Market Gallery is now located.
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