The Toronto Sculpture Garden has been the site of innovative contemporary sculpture installations since 1981. This small, urban park in the downtown core serves as a testing ground for visual artists to experiment with public space and to address issues of architectural scale, materials and context. It has given some artists their first opportunity to work out-of-doors, to experiment with the challenges of siting work within an urban environment and it has provided them with critical experience for future public art projects. Many, including Susan Schelle, Stacey Spiegel, Brian Scott, Mark Gomes, John McKinnon, Carlo Cesta, Judith Schwarz, Stephen Cruise, Reinhard Reitzenstein, Yvonne Singer, Brian Groombridge, Lisa Neighbour and Warren Quigley, undertook their first public commissions after exhibiting in the Toronto Sculpture Garden.
Located at 115 King Street East, near Church Street and opposite St. James' Cathedral, the Garden is both a civic and a private initiative. It is a unique partnership between the City of Toronto, which owns and operates it as a city park, and the Louis L. Odette family, who created a non-profit foundation to fund the exhibitions. The City of Toronto has been an active participant in this partnership with Mayors David Crombie and John Sewell having played a significant role in the development of this special city park with privately funded art exhibitions.