Nuit Blanche at The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto

Nuit Blanche, an all-night arts festival originated in Nantes, France in 1984, and gradually spread to many cities in Europe. Typically, museums, private and public art galleries, and other cultural institutions are free to the public and open all night. The centre of the city is turned into a de facto art gallery with art shows, music, art, and film and dance performances.

On October 1, 2016, The Art Gallery of Ontario hosted 23,050 visitors between the hours of 6:58 P.M. and 7:00 A.M. on October 2. Many visitors were at the AGO for the first time. Says Melissa Smith, Coordinator, Gallery Guide Program and Adult Education Officer Program: "We were able to collect a lot of emails through a photo booth and requiring an email address to sign into our Wi-Fi. We have connected by sending emails about upcoming exhibitions and programs to encourage a repeat visit."

 Two artists were featured that evening. Rebecca Belmore is an interdisciplinary Anishnaabe-Canadian artist. She is known for
politically conscious and socially aware performance and installation work. Ms. Belmore spent all the hours of Nuit Blanche painting the floor of Walker Court, the central AGO space, with red clay from western Canadian, in a symbolic act of reclamation of the land on which the gallery sits.

Jerome Havre is a Toronto-based artist, whose practice concentrates on issues of identity, communities and territories, investigating the political and sociological processes as they relate to nationalism in Canada and France. He presented video works using hand-built puppets modeled
after notable black art historians, culture critics and key art figures of colour from across time. While only the first and fourth floor galleries were open (with many security personnel), everybody appeared to enjoy both watching Ms. Belmore at work, and seeing the artworks available. If your gallery or museum would like more information about Nuit Blanche at The AGO, please contact Melissa Smith at 416-979-6660 x268, or at