A Decade of Collecting: A Look into the Doris McCarthy Gallery Collection

2014, Art, Digital/Online, Doris McCarthy Gallery
anniversary, collecting, contemporary art, painting, photography, sculpture, University of Toronto, virtual exhibit
About This Project

Date: April 1, 2014 – 2015

Partner: Doris McCarthy Gallery

Venue: the website is no longer live

Project Members: Lyne Allain and Bronwen Green


In celebration of its tenth anniversary, the Doris McCarthy Gallery presents highlights from its permanent collection through an online project developed by Master of Museum Studies students from the University of Toronto.


In the past decade, the University of Toronto Scarborough Doris McCarthy Gallery has become a resource of contemporary art for the UTSC community, the art world, and beyond.  It has become a space where Canadian and international contemporary artists can showcase their works, where art can be critically analyzed and explored, and where audiences can come together to engage and converse.


To celebrate this rich history and the Doris McCarthy Gallery’s devotion to enriching lives through art, the students have chosen 50 pieces from the DMG’s collection to be displayed online via the Doris McCarthy Gallery website that reflects the breadth of media and subject matter of the Gallery’s impressive collection. Throughout its ten years, the Doris McCarthy Gallery has collected numerous pieces of art by notable artists that exemplify contemporary art practice.  Ranging from paintings, drawings and sketches, to videos, sculptures and installations, A Decade of Collecting: A Look into the Doris McCarthy Collection features acclaimed national and international artists such as Harold Town, Ray Mead, Kim Adams, Melanie Rocan, and the gallery’s namesake and one of Canada’s most celebrated artists, Doris McCarthy.


This online project originally began as an opportunity for the DMG to increase public access to its collection.  It is intended to appeal to the gallery’s primary audience of University of Toronto Scarborough campus students aged 18-24, as well as university curricular staff and members of the public that have an interest in contemporary art.


The promotional aspect of this project was divided into two parts: digital and physical. The digital element of this exhibition included notices posted through the Doris McCarthy Gallery and the official iSchool Facebook pages, the gallery website, and through the MUSSA Facebook page.  We also had e-invites sent out en masse to the entire Museum Studies department and an advertisement put up on the LCD monitors within the iSchool.  The physical side of our promotional campaign included posters posted on both the University of Toronto Scarborough and  St. George campuses, and a feature in the Gallery newsletter.


The content of the online exhibition comprises of multiple photographs of artworks that have been acquired by the Doris McCarthy Gallery in the past ten years.  These photographs are accompanied by the tombstone information of the art piece (artist, dates, title, medium, dimensions, collection, credit line) and a short text (approximately 75-100 words) providing background information about the artwork and its artist. These texts have been written at a grade 11 and higher level due to the gallery’s educated primary audience of university students. This accompanying text has been obtained by searching the gallery’s collection database, checking acquisition records and information files for each of the artworks, studying the backgrounds of the artists, examining past exhibition catalogues, completing online searches for additional information, and analyzing reference books in the gallery’s possession. The design of the online exhibition corresponds to the Doris McCarthy Gallery’s existing website layout, which adheres to a minimalistic and clean format.


This online project promotes visibility for the Doris McCarthy Gallery by providing a searchable online database that increases the gallery’s connections to students on campus for potential research purposes. This project also reaches out to the general community by offering easy off-site access to the gallery’s collection, which is accessible to anyone anywhere via a computer and the internet. It showcases the gallery’s extensive collection that is normally not visible to the public and greatly increases the number of artworks that are accessible online.


We would like to thank:  Katrina Enros, Erin Peck, and Ann MacDonald of the Doris McCarthy Gallery; Matt Brower; Jon Eng;  the iSchool;  our friends and family; the Museum Studies faculty and our wonderful classmates.  Thank you to everyone for their guidance and support throughout the process of creating this online project. We could not have done it without you!