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The Art of Collecting

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The Art of Collecting opens on October 22

Exhibition acknowledges the ROM’s generous donors who have helped create Canada’s most comprehensive European Decorative Art collection

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) proudly showcases some of its biggest names as it presents the original exhibition The Art of Collecting. Opening on Saturday, October 22, 2011, the exhibition is expected to be displayed in the ROM’s Level 3 Samuel European Galleries for approximately one year. The exhibition provides the ROM the opportunity to acknowledge its many generous donors who have made the ROM’s European Decorative Art Collection the most comprehensive in Canada.

The exhibition was co-curated by Robert Little, Mona Campbell Curator for European Decorative Arts, and Brian Musselwhite, Assistant Curator of European Decorative Arts, of the ROM’s World Cultures department, with assistance from technician Catherine Wyss. Musselwhite states, “We are excited about this exhibition as it honours the ROM’s donors and allows us to share their treasures with our visitors. While many of the objects have never been publicly displayed, they will be familiar as style and design icons, with examples highlighted in numerous publications through the years. Visitors should note: return visits to the exhibition are a must with a number of rotations of objects occurring during its engagement.”

Over 100 stunning objects, many associated with critically and historically renowned artists, have been carefully chosen to provide a cross-section of the approximately 7,000 objects acquired by the ROM’s European section over the last 15 years. Sleek Art Deco silver, dramatic Post-Modern furniture, and rare Renaissance maiolica (Italian earthenware) are among the showcased objects.

Following a chronological narrative, the exhibition spans the late Renaissance to the Post-Modern periods. The development of decorative art styles is examined and visitors will learn of social customs and material culture over the centuries. The ROM’s collections’ outstanding quality is also showcased, providing visitors a greater understanding of the breadth of knowledge required in collecting antiques.

Among the exhibition’s important examples of furniture are works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Carlo Bugatti, Hans Wegner, and Mies van der Rohe. Ceramics are well represented by the inclusion of French, English, and German factories such as Paris Porcelain, Sèvres, Chelsea, Worcester, and Coalport, and designers such as Margarete Heymann-Marks, Stig Lindberg, Valerie (Vally) Wieselthier, and Keith Murray. The exhibition’s English silver highlights works by designer William Kent and silversmiths Paul Crespin, and Thomas Heming, while continental silver is represented by the acclaimed George Jensen and Jean Puiforcat. Displayed glass pieces include works by René Lalique, Peter Behrens, Carlo Scarpa, Dale Chihuly, and Dan Daily. Works on paper, including three Anni Abers prints, are also included in the exhibition.

In galleries near the exhibition space, the works of other renowned designers, artisans, and architects such as Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann and Paul T. Frankl can be seen in Art Déco and Frank Lloyd Wright in Culture and Context. Jean Puiforcat’s silver and Orrefors’ glass are displayed in Eaton Court.

Visitors to The Art of Collecting may also be interested in the 18th Annual Silver Lecture. Taking place at the ROM on November 30 from 4:30 to 7:00 pm, this year’s Studies in Silver is “Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor”, a look at the American socialite Wallis Warfield Simpson, for whom King Edward VIII renounced the throne in 1936. Simpson’s style, clothes and, especially, her jewellery were widely admired, photographed, and imitated. Speaker Carol Elkins is the Senior Vice President, Jewellery Department, Sotheby’s, New York. Pre-registration is required. For additional information and to purchase tickets, go to or call 416.586.5797

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