staircase at the AGO one of museums in Toronto
Museums | Culture | North America

10 Exciting museums in Toronto to explore on your next visit

Toronto is a vibrant and culturally diverse city filled with many attractions for every taste. It’s also a great place for museum lovers looking to tap into the city’s cultural scene. From hockey to shoes to dinosaur bones and everything in between, museums in Toronto will keep you busy.

Want to know more about Toronto? Check out this guide before planning your trip!

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Museums in Toronto

There are many historical and culturally significant spots in the city open to visitors. But, many are not. Once a year, visitors get an opportunity to visit some of these places as part of the Doors Open Toronto imitative that takes place in May.  Many museums, including the ones mentioned here, open their doors to the public for free. It’s a great opportunity to discover cool and unusual places in Toronto.

Due to Covid-19, many of the venues are closed or open with restrictions. Make sure to check the official websites before planning your visit. The Doors Open Toronto 2021 has been cancelled.

Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)

📍 100 Queen’s Park, Toronto | website

The Royal Ontario Museum, known as the ROM, is Canada’s largest museum and one of my favourite museums in Toronto. Founded in 1914, it is one of the top cultural institutions in North America. It is home to a world-class collection of 13 million artworks, cultural objects and natural history specimens, housed in 40 gallery and exhibition spaces.

With an extensive collection of dinosaur bones, Egyptian mummies and Asian arts, to name a few, the ROM is a wonderful place to explore. It also functions as Canada’s field research institute for advancing our understanding of the artistic, cultural and natural worlds. Like many other museums, the ROM is housed in an interesting space that combines heritage architecture with contemporary design.

Want to know more about the ROM? You might enjoy this post!

Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

📍 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto | website

The Art Gallery of Ontario, known as the AGO, is also one of Toronto’s most popular museums.  With a collection of over 90,000 works ranging from contemporary art and European masters to Canada’s indigenous people and photography. The gallery often hosts temporary exhibitions in addition to its permanent collection.

The AGO is a great space to explore and discover your creative side with many different art classes for all ages. In 2008, the gallery underwent a major expansion designed by Frank Gehry. Here you’ll find vast spaces, high ceilings and other architectural features that are just as appealing as the art displayed here.

10 Exciting museums in Toronto to explore on your next visit | kasiawrites cultural travel
AGO – Photo by Donna Lay on Unsplash

Aga Khan Museum

📍 77 Wynford Drive, Toronto | website

One of the newer museums in Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum, focuses on the Muslim civilizations and culture of the Islamic world. It’s the first museum in the Western world that displays the “artistic, intellectual and scientific contributions of Muslim civilizations to world heritage.”

The museum houses over 1,000 rare objects and artifacts from the private collections of His Highness the Aga Khan, the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, and Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan. These include manuscripts, ceramics, medical texts, portraits, textiles, musical instruments and many other objects from the Iberian coast to China.

10 Exciting museums in Toronto to explore on your next visit | kasiawrites cultural travel
Aga Khan Museum –
JohnOyston
CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Casa Loma

📍 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto | website

Casa Loma was once the private residence of the financier Sir Henry Pellatt.  It represents the city’s history and is a throwback to the wealthy Torontonians of the past. It’s also one of the city’s top tourist attractions, event venues and one of my favourite museums in Toronto.

Sir Henry’s inspiration for Casa Loma came from the castles in Europe. Once he made his money, he set out to build his dream home, sparing no expense. An outbreak of World War I put a dent in his plans, and eventually, Sir Henry was forced to sell his beloved home. Today, you can tour the former residence, walk along the underground tunnel and admire great views of the city from the stunning gardens.  

To learn more about Casa Loma, check out The Toronto castle you need to visit!

Hockey Hall of Fame

📍 30 Yonge Street, Brookfield Place, Toronto | website

Whether you’re a hockey fan or want to learn more about Canada’s national sport, the Hockey Hall of Fame is for you. It houses the largest collection of hockey memorabilia in the world, including the Stanley Cup, hockey’s championship trophy. Ironically, the last time Toronto’s hockey team – the Maple Leafs – won the cup was in 1967.

The museum is also an interactive, hands-on experience with shoot out simulations against animated hockey greats, hockey-themed movies and trivia.  There are themed exhibits, a replica NHL dressing room, trophies and hockey-related merchandise, and many more.

A sports fan? You might enjoy Guide to Toronto’s sports teams!

Ontario Science Centre

📍 770 Don Mills Road, Toronto | website

For every other kid growing up in Toronto, a school visit to the Science Centre is a rite of passage. This is where science comes to life, and kids can get their hands-on interactive settings meant to inspire passion for adventure of discovery.

From science, human anatomy, geology and nature to live science demonstrations, a state-of-the-art planetarium and a replica rainforest. Kids can play and explore in more than 500 hands-on experiences across eight exhibit halls. This makes the Science Centre one of the most fun museums in Toronto, especially for those that like a less traditional setting.

Bata Shoe Museum

📍 327 Bloor Street West, Toronto | website

The Bata Shoe Museum is like a candy store for shoe lovers. The museum has the largest collection of shoes and footwear-related items, amounting to more than 13,000 pieces. Representing over 4,500 years of history, the collection is housed over five floors in an equally impressive building.

Visitors can learn about the evolution of footwear and its role in society throughout history. There are thousands of shoes on display at any time, ranging from Chinese bound-foot shoes, ancient Egyptian sandals and clogs to glamorous platforms and buttoned boots. On the museum’s website, you can check the exhibition highlights and learn more about the shoes.

10 Exciting museums in Toronto to explore on your next visit | kasiawrites cultural travel
Museums in Toronto – Bata Shoe Museum

Gardiner Museum

📍 111 Queen’s Park, Toronto | website

Dedicated to all things pottery, the Gardiner Museum collections focus on two types of ceramics, earthenware and porcelain. There are over 4,000 items from across the globe, from Inuit ceramics, English delftware, Chinese and Japanese porcelain, and pieces from the Ancient Americas.

Like many other museums in Toronto, this one offers hands-on classes, programs and workshops while supporting local artists and promoting a deeper understanding of the art of ceramics.

10 Exciting museums in Toronto to explore on your next visit | kasiawrites cultural travel
Gardiner Museum via Smart Destinations on Flickr

Museum of Illusions

📍 132 Front Street East, Toronto | website

Unlike the displays at any other museum in Toronto, at the Museum of Illusions, nothing is what it seems. Combining entertainment and education, the museum offers over 80 illusions, holograms, installations and exhibits. Here you can explore various sensory and proprioceptive experiences, from defying laws of gravity, problem-solving games and visual illusions.

Similar to the Ontario Science Centre, the Museum of Illusions uses fun to teach and engage. Kids and adults can enjoy the infinity rooms, the Vortex tunnel, rotated rooms, illusions, brainteasers, puzzles, impossible knots and many more. If you’re into brain games and tricks-of-the-eye displays, then this is the place for you.

Textile Museum of Canada

📍 55 Centre Avenue, Toronto | website

As the name suggests, the Textile Museum is the only museum in Canada dedicated to exploring the human experience through textiles. It has a permanent collection of more than 13,000 textiles from around the world, covering over 2,000 years of textile history. Some of the items often make special appearances in other museums in Toronto as part of temporary exhibitions.

In addition to housing numerous fabrics, carpets, garments, specialty clothes and carpets, the museum offers lectures, workshops, seminars and tours. There are also educational guides, monthly Textile Teach-ins and events around contemporary art practices. The museum offers curated exhibitions of contemporary and historical artifacts and is home to a reference library of materials focused on non-industrial textiles.

Final thoughts on museums in Toronto

There are many fun and interesting museums in Toronto for every taste. While Toronto might not come close to the number of museums in Paris or London, it holds its own. As there are many cultural festivals and events throughout the year, there are many additional temporary exhibitions, art installations and displays that pop up all over the city. There is always something to see and explore.

Enjoy reading about museums in Toronto? You might like Why visit museums.

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    Vansh Tiwari
    2 Feb 2021
    2:28am

    Hi Kasia, I am not a big fan of museums, but the Hockey museum that you had talked about sounded interesting to me because I never heard of it anywhere. Especially I get excited when someone talks about sports museum 😊.

      kasiawrites
      2 Feb 2021
      1:30pm

      Toronto is a sports town so we have many professional teams here. A hockey museum is a fitting part of that 🙂 If you like sports, I’m sure you’d love this one.

    Lannie Travels
    2 Feb 2021
    11:37pm

    I’ve been to Casa Lima!!! But nowhere else on your list. I’ve been wracking my brain to seeing I visited any museums during my previous trips to Toronto. NOPE. that’ll be for next time! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      kasiawrites
      3 Feb 2021
      2:23pm

      Casa Loma is great! I think you’d like the other ones as well. Let me know if you make your way to Toronto 🙂

    Wendy White
    3 Feb 2021
    3:42am

    I’d definitely try to visit Casa Loma and the Royal Ontario Museum when in Toronto. There certainly is something for every taste.

      kasiawrites
      3 Feb 2021
      2:25pm

      Yes, the city has some great museums that will make everyone happy! My niece loves the ROM and she’s excited to check out others when they reopen.

    Alexandra from Virevolte
    3 Feb 2021
    4:49am

    tbt, Canada is on top on my list but for its nature only. Your article made me rethink that – we should definitely stop at Toronto when we will visit Canada, as many museums seem pretty incredible (and all so different from each other!). Thanks for showing a part of Toronto I did not really think of before!

      kasiawrites
      3 Feb 2021
      2:26pm

      Happy to provide some inspiration! Canada has great outdoors but there are also many amazing places to explore. Toronto has tons to offer 🙂

    Vinn
    4 Feb 2021
    7:14am

    The Bata Museum is a feast to my eyes!

      kasiawrites
      4 Feb 2021
      2:10pm

      Oh, I can totally relate! It’s such a fascinating place and the shoes are amazing 🙂

    Jennifer Nilsson
    4 Feb 2021
    2:20pm

    Oh, the Aga Khan Museum looks so interesting! I really can’t wait to get back to your hometown. I love Toronto so much. Will take your tips along with me when we can all travel again!

      kasiawrites
      4 Feb 2021
      2:26pm

      Happy to help! Toronto is a great destination. I’ve only been to Aga Khan once and I’m planning to revisit when things reopen 🙂

    Jane
    4 Feb 2021
    4:25pm

    Such an eclectic mix of museums! A whole museum devoted to shoes? That is awesome! There is so much more to Toronto than I realised.

      kasiawrites
      4 Feb 2021
      4:59pm

      Yes! So many great shoes! I haven’t been in few years so I think I’m due for another visit then the museums reopen. Toronto has a lot of stuff to see and do 🙂

    Kemi
    4 Feb 2021
    6:48pm

    Museums!! Lol. I’ve noted Aga Khan, Casa Loma, and Bata Museum to visit whenever…
    We’ve got Museum of Illusions here too and I love it! I hope they’ve been able to switch up the exhibitions but with the pandemic, doubt it.

      kasiawrites
      5 Feb 2021
      12:08pm

      I had a feeling you’d like this one 🙂 These are great ones to visit! Hopefully, we can do that again soon.

    Sue
    4 Feb 2021
    7:35pm

    Wow Toronto has so many unique museums! I’d love to check out that shoe museum.

      kasiawrites
      5 Feb 2021
      12:11pm

      The shoe museum is a popular one! I am way overdue for a visit myself since it’s been few years since I’ve been there.

    Vanessa Shields
    5 Feb 2021
    11:35am

    So many neat museums! I’d definitely enjoy ROM as I love any museum that has dinosaur bones and exhibits. I’d enjoy Casa Loma and the shoe museum. That must be a lot of shoes!

      kasiawrites
      5 Feb 2021
      12:10pm

      My niece and nephew love the dino exhibits! I actually do too, so can’t go wrong with the ROM! Yes, they have a lot of shoes at Bata and they rotate their collection so you’re bound to see something different on every visit.

    John Quinn
    5 Feb 2021
    7:17pm

    There is such a diverse range you’ll never be bored for sure. The Ontario museum would be my preference but Casa Lama would give it a good run. If for the building as much as anything.

      kasiawrites
      7 Feb 2021
      6:39pm

      Yes, there are many great museums. Casa Loma is a great place to check out during summer!

    Stefan (BerkeleySqB)
    6 Feb 2021
    9:54am

    The Royal Ontario Museum had me at dinosaur bones, but cool that they also do Egyptian mummies and art and other stuff. Toronto comes across as a lovely place to live in your post and there are at least five other museums I’d visit when in town. My second most favourite choice would probably be the Hockey Hall of Fame, it’s just such a Canadian thing to have haha.. love it.

      kasiawrites
      7 Feb 2021
      6:38pm

      I really hope you make it to Toronto soon then! There are many great things to see and do in Toronto and the museums will definitely keep you busy 😉

    Tiffany Pence
    6 Feb 2021
    12:10pm

    Toronto seems to have it all! These museums look like fun and I hear the food scene is pretty spectacular, too!

      kasiawrites
      7 Feb 2021
      6:37pm

      Yes, Toronto’s food scene is definitely worth checking out! There are many great and diverse culinary options for every taste 🙂