AGO still needs $1 million to get Infinity Mirror Room in final week of fundraising
Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, November 23, 2018 12:09PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 23, 2018 1:31PM EST
TORONTO -- The Art Gallery of Ontario is stepping up efforts to raise cash for an Infinity Mirror Room in the final week of a fundraising campaign.
The Toronto gallery was nearly $1 million shy of its $1.3 million goal Thursday, just before it announced a renewed push for funds this morning.
It's now partnering with a global campaign known as Giving Tuesday, which encourages charity-giving on the Tuesday following U.S. Thanksgiving and the shopping holidays Cyber Monday and Black Friday.
The gallery has also revealed that the room it will buy is a replica of a larger-than-average piece by artist Yayoi Kusama currently at a Chicago pop-up museum. Titled "Let's Survive Forever," it includes reflective steel balls and a mirrored column that itself contains a small Infinity Mirror Room.
Communications chief Lisa Clements says the gallery is locked into a deal to buy the room regardless of how the month-long fundraising campaign ends Nov. 30.
She admits that could involve relying on an 11th-hour donor to cover a possible shortfall.
"There is a commitment to acquire the work so we're going to make sure we get that work, regardless," said Clements.
"If someone does come forward then we would certainly say, 'Yes,' that's for sure. But we're exploring all our angles," she added, noting there is a renewed social media push for donations, as well as more announcements expected next week.
A little over 3,000 people had donated nearly $370,000 as of Thursday afternoon and Clements had no doubt the gallery would confirm the purchase in a week.
"We know that the supporters that know us well have been really monitoring and paying attention to the campaign (and) I really think we're going to have that support at the end of the day."
She hoped that partnering with the hashtag-driven movement Giving Tuesday, which has also partnered with the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Hamilton, would broaden the campaign's reach and remind people that the AGO is a registered charity.
Still, it was hard to ignore how far there was to go.
Last spring's exhibition Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors drew more than 169,000 visitors, which Clements is confident reflects intense interest in Kusama's work.
Initially, the gallery was going to reveal the room after the goal had been reached. She says revealing it now should "make it more real for people."
"It's an unusual room in that way in that four or five people can come in at a time. It's big," she said.
The AGO Foundation has already committed $1 million to cover half of the purchase price. The gallery has also sparked giving by offering matching donations three times, including one backed by the Schulich Foundation that expires Friday at noon, capped at $20,000.
But Clements refused to say whether the gallery is where they thought they'd be at this stage of the campaign.
"There's no rule book. We've been figuring this out as we go and we weren't sure where we would be but we are the first art museum in Canada to do this," she said.
"We're going to have, I'm sure, lots of learning from this."