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Shelly Paputis (left) takes her children Abbey aged 10 and Patrick (right) aged 6 past a collection of art retrieved from Toronto schools offices stands on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto on Nov. 25, 2011. Photo by (Chris Young for The Globe and Mail/Chris Young for The Globe and Mail)
Shelly Paputis (left) takes her children Abbey aged 10 and Patrick (right) aged 6 past a collection of art retrieved from Toronto schools offices stands on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto on Nov. 25, 2011. Photo by (Chris Young for The Globe and Mail/Chris Young for The Globe and Mail)

250,000 students to get free access to AGO learning wing Add to ...

The Toronto District School Board and the Art Gallery of Ontario are teaming up for a first-of-its-kind educational partnership that will bring students, especially those from high-needs communities, into the gallery.

The partnership includes free access for students to the educational wing of the gallery, specialized curriculum resources for teachers, and a chance for students to view TDSB-owned art previously relegated to a school basement.

More than 250,000 students, as well as their parents and teachers will have free access to the learning wing of the gallery.

“A partnership of this scale affecting this many students and teachers has never happened before,” said Kelly McKinley, director of education and public planning for the AGO. “We wanted to do it because we wanted to help the board take full advantage of the [art]collection that they hold, we wanted to make sure that it was preserved and that the public has access to it.”

The TDSB began to collect and catalogue its artwork in earnest after Cranberry Lake, painted in 1936 by Franklin Carmichael, was damaged when a steam pipe burst at Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute in 2004. The collection also includes a Tom Thomson painting worth an estimated $1.5-million that was removed several years ago from the principal’s office at Riverdale Collegiate.

But the artworks became caught in a financial Catch-22: Without the money to restore or display the treasures, they remained in storage, where both the learning and earning potential of the collection was lost.

The school board and the gallery began shaping their co-operation more than a year ago. Thirteen works from the TDSB’s collection now hang in the new Weston Family Learning Centre, which opened last month.

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