Clay's malleable nature and neutral colour makes it an ideal medium for shaping elegant vases and sculpting an army of cheese-guarding terracotta warriors. See the ranks of impressionable pottery with today's Groupon: for $5, you get one admission to the Gardiner Museum, located in the Yorkville district (up to a $12 value depending on age, student status, and day of the week).
The recently expanded Gardiner Museum is Canada's premier museum devoted to ceramics, one of the world's oldest and most ubiquitous forms of art and material culture. The clay-based collection contains more than 3,000 historical and contemporary pieces, as well as rotating special exhibitions whirling atop a set of spinning plates. In addition to the interior interests, the museum is housed in one of the city's finest examples of Modernist architecture. After soaking in the sights, visitors can check out the acclaimed retail shop and café run by celebrity chef Jamie Kennedy, or try sculpting and wheel-throwing with ceramics strongmen in the open clay studio. Artist talks, book launches, and free Friday films fill-out the rotund offerings.
When Toronto businessman and philanthropist George R. Gardiner began collecting ceramics in 1976, he was only interested in decorating his home. But soon his passion for pottery and porcelain grew as well as his collection and he co-founded the Gardiner Museum in 1984 with his wife, Helen. Today, the museum's collection has ballooned to include more than 4,000 pieces, encompassing everything from Japanese sake pots and Italian Renaissance maiolica plates, to Canadian contemporary ceramic sculptures.
Objects from the core collection share space in the museum with special exhibitions. The museum supplements its showings with lectures, special workshops, and clay classes for children and adults. Visitors can take home a souvenir from the Gardiner Shop, which sells Canadian ceramics as well as international jewelry, scarves, and glasswork, or stop-by for a lovely lunch at the third floor Terrace Room with stunning views overlooking the city, catered by à la Carte Kitchen Inc.