The Power Plant

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The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery
The Power Plant lobby.jpg
Established 1987
Location 231 Queens Quay West,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Type Art gallery
Visitors 130,000 per year
Director Gaëtane Verna[1]
President Margaret McNee[2]
Curator Carolin Köchling, (Exhibitions)
Joshua Heuman, (Education and Public Programs)
Public transit access Union
509 Harbourfront
510 Spadina
Website The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery

The Power Plant is one of Canada’s leading public galleries devoted to contemporary art, located in Toronto, Ontario at Harbourfront Centre. As a non-collecting art gallery, The Power Plant has presented new and recent work by numerous Canadian artists along with their international peers.

Over its history, the program has included ambitious thematic exhibitions and major solo exhibitions by Canadians Colin Campbell, Janet Cardiff, Peter Doig, Stan Douglas, Geoffrey Farmer, Rodney Graham, Annie Pootoogook, Steven Shearer, Michael Snow, Derek Sullivan, and Althea Thauberger. Solo exhibitions by international artists include those by Fiona Banner, Liam Gillick, Douglas Gordon, Thomas Hirschhorn, Mike Kelley, Glenn Ligon, Adrian Piper, Ryan Trecartin, Francesco Vezzoli, and Carey Young.

Since its foundation in 1987, The Power Plant has produced more than forty publications,[3] as well as public programming such as symposia, performances, screenings, and the International Lecture Series that further the dialogue around contemporary practices.

The Power Plant is a registered Canadian charitable organization supported by its members, sponsors, donors, and funding bodies at all levels of government.


The Power Plant was initially established in 1976 as the Art Gallery at Harbourfront. The original Power Plant with its companion building The Ice House (today the Enwave Theatre), was constructed in 1926 to house the heating and refrigeration equipment for the massive Toronto Terminal Warehouse (now Queen's Quay Terminal). Part of the Federal Government's acquisition of a 92-acre lakefront site, The Power Plant was in operation as an actual power plant until 1980.

In 1980, Harbourfront Corporation provided the Art Gallery at Harbourfront with the opportunity to renovate the 1920s powerhouse as its new home. Peter Smith of Lett/Smith Architects was chosen to undertake the renovations, the design of which has taken into consideration both the history of the building and the demands of contemporary art.[4] The powerhouse was then converted to an art gallery and opened to the public on 1 May 1987. The Power Plant is recognizable by its smokestack and exterior façade which have been restored to maintain reference to its history.

Commissioning Program[edit]

In 2006, The Power Plant launched an annual Commissioning Program, which is an ongoing program to develop and premier major new works by Canadian and international artists. The Commissioning Program is linked to The Power Plant’s Strategic Plan to produce at least one major new art work of international significance per annum, establishing The Power Plant as a lead agent in Canada for commissioning landmark contemporary art projects by Canadian and international artists.[5] Since The Power Plant is a non-collecting contemporary art gallery, the commissioning of major new projects is a distinctive and important role for The Power Plant.

Past commissions include:

Harbourfront Centre[edit]

The Power Plant is a key attraction of Harbourfront Centre. While the gallery is led by its own Board of Directors, Harbourfront Centre supports the gallery with maintenance and improvements to the physical site, as well as services and financial support.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Message from the Director - The Power Plant". The Power Plant. The Power Plant. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "Board of Directors & Staff - The Power Plant". The Power Plant. The Power Plant. Retrieved 25 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "OAAG Award". OAAG. OAAG. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "The Power Plant". ArtSlant. ArtSlant. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Power Plant - 2011 Commission". The Power Plant. The Power Plant. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 

Coordinates: 43°38′18.33″N 79°22′55.42″W / 43.6384250°N 79.3820611°W / 43.6384250; -79.3820611