Discover some of the best museums in Toronto to explore – exhibiting everything from historical artefacts to fine art.
The museums in Toronto have something for every kind of culture enthusiast, from the Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame to the unusual architecture and immense collection of world history at the Royal Ontario Museum. To help you plan your trip efficiently, Culture Trip has narrowed it down to the top 11. Here’s your guide to the coolest museums to visit in Toronto – most of which are conveniently located in the city’s downtown core.
If you only visit one museum while in Toronto, make it the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). The building’s unusual architecture, designed by Polish-American Daniel Libeskind, is just the start of what the ROM has to offer. The museum contains important collections of dinosaurs, minerals and meteorites, as well as the world’s largest collection of fossils from the Burgess Shale. Entrance to the museum costs about 20 Canadian dollars ($15.24), but on the third Monday of every month, visitors can enter for free between 5:30pm and 8:30pm.
Toronto architect Raymond Moriyama was hired to design the Ontario Science Centre back in 1964. The site was modeled on the natural contours of the Don River ravine, on which the science center stands. Inside, you’ll find several hundred interactive experiences and artefacts, including moon rocks. Ticket prices range between 13 and 22 Canadian dollars ($9.90-16.76), and children under two years old enter for free.
The Hockey Hall of Fame has the largest collection of hockey memorabilia in the world. With over 15 exhibit areas, hockey fans can feast their eyes on everything from the original Stanley Cup to portraits of exceptional NHL players like Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. Admission is between 14 and 20 Canadian dollars ($10.67-15.24), and children under three years of age get in for free.
The Aga Khan Museum aims to offer new perspectives on Muslim civilizations and culture through Islamic art, Iranian art and hundreds of artefacts and cultural items. Visitors can expect to see examples of Quran manuscripts, ceramics, metalwork and paintings that cover all periods of Islamic history. Designed by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, the jaw-dropping museum sits in the same landscaped park as Toronto’s Ismaili Centre. Tickets cost up to 20 Canadian dollars ($15.24).
The Design Exchange (DX) is the only museum in Canada that dedicates itself to the preservation of design history. The DX provides hands-on, design-based learning for children and teenagers, and it has hosted hundreds of exhibitions over the years. The museum lies in the historic Toronto Stock Exchange building in the heart of the Financial District. Admission is free.
Situated just across the street from the ROM, the Gardiner Museum is a must-visit for anyone with an appreciation for pottery. The gallery is dedicated entirely to ceramics from around the globe, with over 4,000 items on display, including English delftware, Chinese and Japanese porcelain, and pieces from the Ancient Americas. The Gardiner also has ceramics classes for all ages. Admission is 15 Canadian dollars ($11.43), but the museum offers half-price admission every Wednesday evening and free entry for university students every Tuesday. Children under the age of 18 enter for free.
What used to be a quaint collection of textiles perched above an ice cream shop has since developed into a permanent exhibition space devoted to fabrics. Covering over 2,000 years of textile history through more than 13,000 textiles from around the world, this impressive collection includes fabrics, ceremonial cloths, garments and more. The Textile Museum of Canada (TMC) lies in downtown Toronto, and admission will run you about 15 Canadian dollars ($11.43). On Wednesday evenings between 5pm and 8pm, the museum has a pay-what-you-can policy.
Conveniently located around the corner from the ROM, the Bata Shoe Museum is a footwear museum founded by Sonja Bata. Opening its doors in 1995, the museum is home to the world’s largest collection of shoes and other footwear-related items, including ballroom slippers worn by Queen Victoria, one of Terry Fox’s running shoes and much more. On Thursday evenings between 5pm and 8pm, visitors pay what they can; otherwise, admission is 14 Canadian dollars ($10.67) for adults.
Mackenzie House was the last home of William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor. These days, the carefully preserved landmark functions as a historic house museum about 1860s urban Victorian life. The museum hosts various exhibitions and other events throughout the year. Admission for adults is 8 Canadian dollars ($6.09), and children ages four and under can enter for free.
Spanish for “hill house,” Casa Loma is a historic house museum and landmark that dates back over 100 years when it was used as a residence for financier Sir Henry Pellatt. Most of the original furniture and other features of the castle remain, including the underground tunnel that connects Casa Loma to the stables and carriage house. Most recently, Casa Loma has added a theatrical escape room series that takes players back to the early 1900s. Admission to the castle is about 32 ($24.38) Canadian dollars, while the escape room is about 46 dollars ($35.05).
Unlike any other museum on this list, the Museum of Illusions, which is just a few blocks from the Hockey Hall of Fame, offers a dizzying display of new and unexplored illusions through intriguing visuals and sensory experiences. Making innovative use of modern brain games and tricks-of-the-eye displays, this playful science museum will make you question what’s in front of you and guarantees a few laughs along the way. Tickets can be up to 30 Canadian dollars ($22.86), depending on the time of day.