AGO Espresso Bar


A different set of people around here

Listen to the audio version of this coffice space review on Patreon.

This coffice space is special.

The AGO Espresso Bar is in the Galleria Italia in the Art Gallery of Ontario. It’s a long, high, sweeping galleria with curving wood timbers down one side like the inside of an old ship – a ship with a hull of glass, with a view out to Dundas Street below, cars and buses and people passing by and old buildings with other galleries across the street. The other side of the galleria is a tall blonde wall with doors in it to the aquarium of art. There are sculptures in this galleria, and the galleria isa sculpture. And there is this espresso bar, a counter where you can stop and get coffee, tea, cold beverages, little snacks. Refreshments between art and art. You can sit at one of the low round tables or one of the rectangular high-tops.

I love art galleries. I love coming to swim in the art and to see the people here to see the art. I love the smells. I love the sounds.

You don’t get music here. Well, yes, you do, but it’s John Cage’s 4’33”on permanent repeat. The acoustics are live and resonant in interesting ways. Sometimes a conversation some distance away sounds like it’s next to you. Sometimes a conversation near you is almost inaudible.

Sometimes it’s noisy. Sometimes it’s not.


It’s an echo chamber! It’s a wind tunnel! No… it’s a galleria of art!

I only rarely work in this coffice space. I love it, but it’s in the Art Gallery of Ontario. Which I also love, but… I can only bring my laptop in in its little book-looking case. If I have a bag, I have to check it. And they aren’t open on Mondays, and they don’t open as early in the day as I would sometimes like, and they don’t stay open as late as I would sometimes like.

Of course, to get into the gallery also requires admission. That’s not a problem for me. Like apparently about half of everyone in Toronto, I have a membership, so I can walk in any time I want. But it does reduce the usual coffice crowd.

I could actually go to the members’ lounge. I like the galleria better.

If you’re working on a project where you’d like to sit with a laptop and a coffee for some of the time, and think about it while wandering through art for some of the time, this is your place. It’s great for planning a structural edit of a book. It’s not good for marking up page proofs.

But most importantly, you are in a supremely, deeply, pointedly aesthetic environment.

And if you want a more typical coffee joint afterwards, there are quite a few nearby.


Now go swim in some art

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