The University of Toronto Art Centre opened to the public in November of 1996. It was created by a collective effort of many University of Toronto staff and volunteers. An initial gift from the Delta Gamma Women's Fraternity made the conversion of the 1961 north wing of University College possible. The purpose of the Art Centre was to provide a home for three permanent collections of art belonging to the University: the Lillian Malcove Collection (which came to us by bequest in 1981), the University College Collection (Canadian art), and the large and eclectic University of Toronto Art Collection.
Initially each of these collections was given permanent exhibition space in the Art Centre. The curators mounted a small changing program of exhibitions drawn from the three permanent collections. In 1998 the Centre was the recipient of an anonymous gift that was used to fund a year-long expansion renovation. The Art Centre reopened in April 2000 with two special exhibitions, as well as selections from the permanent collections, installed in an expanded 7000-square-foot exhibition space. With our new space and the inclusion of climate control technology our mandate was expanded to include a program of changing exhibitions throughout the gallery spaces.
The collections continue to grow, with a special focus on study collections, areas of intense focus that lend themselves to scholarly study by University of Toronto students and faculty, or by those from elsewhere. The exhibition mandate supports the academic mission of the University by mounting curatorially driven, thematic, long-running, museum-style exhibitions.