The Top Museums to Visit in Toronto

Toronto at twilight | © Rick Harris / Flickr
Toronto at twilight | © Rick Harris / Flickr
Picture of Emily Paskevics
Updated: 19 April 2017
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Toronto is home to a variety of world-class museums, many of which are conveniently located around the downtown core. As you plan your trip through the city, here are some of the most unique and must-see museums that the city has to offer.

Royal Ontario Museum

At the top of any list of must-visit museums in Toronto, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is easily one of the city’s main attractions. It is also one of Toronto’s most impressive buildings in terms of its unusual architecture. The ROM is the largest museum in Canada, as well as one of the largest in North America, and attracts more than one million visitors every year. With diverse world culture and natural history collections, the ROM holds more than six million items and 40 galleries.

The Royal Ontario Museum
© The City of Toronto / Flickr

Gardiner Museum

Conveniently located across the street from the ROM, the Gardiner Museum is a much smaller venue that is entirely dedicated to ceramics. It has a permanent collection of close to 3,000 items, which include pieces from the Italian Renaissance, Chinese and Japanese porcelain, and pieces from the ancient Americas, in addition to a contemporary gallery. The Gardiner also hosts three temporary exhibitions each year.

The Gardiner Museum
© Alejandro/ Flickr

Bata Shoe Museum

Another stone’s throw from the ROM, the Bata Shoe Museum is just as it sounds: a gallery dedicated to the history of footwear from around the world. The Bata collection has more than 13,500 items from various time periods and cultures, into the present. The museum typically houses four exhibitions—one semi-permanent and three that are time-limited and changing—in addition to lectures, performances, and family events. The semi-permanent exhibition is called All About Shoes: Footwear Through the Ages, which explores the significance of footwear in various cultural practices and phases of life across diverse cultures.

The Bata Museum
© Larry Koester/ Flickr

Textile Museum of Canada

Located in downtown Toronto, the Textile Museum of Canada (TMC) allows for the exploration of textiles across time. The permanent collection at TMC has more than 13,000 textiles from around the world, including fabrics, ceremonial cloths, garments, carpets, quilts, and related artifacts that cover 2,000 years of textile history. The TMC also curates exhibitions of contemporary textile work along with historic and ethnographic artifacts.

Textile Museum
© Mark B. Schlemmer/ Flickr

Aga Khan Museum

Located in North York, the Aga Khan Museum showcases Islamic art, Iranian (Persian) art, and Muslim culture. The collection holds approximately 1,000 items, including examples of Qur’an manuscripts that allow for an exploration of the variety of script, material, and decorative styles and designs that evolved across the Muslim world. The museum’s grounds also include a public park that is beautiful to visit during the spring and summer months.

Aga Khan Museum
© JohnOyston/ WikiCommons

The Hockey Hall of Fame

A shrine to all things ice hockey, Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame is home to exhibits about famous players, teams, records of the National Hockey League (NHL), memorabilia, and NHL trophies—including the all-important Stanley Cup. The Hockey Hall of Fame has 15 exhibit areas that cover 60,000 square feet of space downtown at Yonge and Front Street West.

Hockey Hall of Fame
© WikiCommons

The Design Exchange

The Design Exchange (DX) is the only museum in Canada that focuses on design and the preservation of design heritage. Situated in Toronto’s financial district in the historic Toronto Stock Exchange building, the DX incorporates multiple disciplines, from graphics and fashion to furniture and architecture, in order to demonstrate the relevance of design in everyday life. Objects in the permanent collection at the DX showcase five decades of Canadian industrial design.

Toronto Design Exchange
© Daniel MacDonald/ Flickr
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