Thousands of pieces of artwork were brought out of storage when the Toronto District School Board partnered with a Toronto gallery to make the pieces more accessible.

The TDSB has a collection of more than 7,000 pieces of fine art, with a value of more than $7 million. The collection includes several pieces from famed Canadian artists in the Group of Seven.

The paintings were left to Toronto-area schools and school boards in several wills over the last century. The collection came together when Toronto's six municipalities amalgamated and the TDSB formed in 1998.

Despite the value of the artwork, the board can't sell the collection.

"It doesn't belong to us to sell," TDSB Superintendent John Chasty told CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness.

"It belongs to the future generations of our students, to the city of Toronto."

Rather than hiding the collection in a vault, the board partnered with the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2011 to display the paintings where residents and students in Toronto can enjoy them.

The AGO displays some of the paintings in its Weston Family Learning Centre, where they are free for the public to view.

"The partnership has been very successful for us because we have 6,000 to 7,000 people a month coming through this space," AGO representative Judith Koke said.

The gallery has also helped restore some of the older pieces as part of a five-year partnership. A year ahead of the deal's expiration, the board and AGO are already discussing the next five years.

The TDSB has thousands of pieces that are still in its vault, and Chasty is looking for ways to make them accessible to the public.

"It is so important to us that this is publicly accessible, that it's free for any member of the public and for our students and for our parents in our communities," he said.

Some of the paintings are on display at the board's head office, located at 5050 Yonge St., just north of Sheppard Avenue. Others are awaiting restoration in the TDSB vault.

A year ahead of the deal's expiration, the board and AGO are already discussing the next five years. Chasty said they hope to use their next AGO display to showcase some of the Aboriginal art in the collection.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness