Dundas West creates Toronto’s first open-air museum

Dundas West creates Toronto’s first open-air museum

Dundas West creates Toronto’s first open-air museum

This article orginally appeared on Kickstart BIA.

At Toronto’s newest museum on Dundas West, there’s no umbrella storage or coat checks, no half-priced admission or well-dressed security kindly requesting you don’t touch the art. Instead, the works are all there in the street, a patchwork of murals telling the story of what and who the neighbourhood is and will be. The dundaswest.museum is an open-air street art museum. And it’s Toronto’s first.

“The city’s changing so fast, there’s so much development,” says Rodrigo Ardiles of the Creativo Arts Collective, which worked alongside the Lula Music and Arts Centre and Dundas West BIA and Little Portugal BIA to create the museum. “We talked to the people from the city and what the community is today – Portuguese, Vietnamese, Brazilian – and everybody really wanted to have a bit of their story stored in this place.”

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Street art is having a moment. Is it a pivotal one?

During the height of the Spanish flu pandemic, afflicted Norwegian artist Edvard Munch painted a pair of self-portraits. In the first, he sits alone in a chair beside his rumpled bed, bundled in a robe, blankets covering his legs. His face is drained of color and his mouth hangs open, as if gasping for breath. In the second, painted after his recovery, he lists, seemingly exhausted, toward the viewer.

Create HOPE – Collective Mural Initiative

In the context of the current state of isolation, recommended by public health officials across the globe due to COVID19, a new initiative has been launched through an alliance between local Canadian arts and health advocates, to create an arts-based health promotion initiative in response to the high demand for mental health support for families to cope during this difficult period that we face.

Créer l’espoir – une murale virtuelle pancanadienne se dessine à l’horizon

Malgré les distances qui séparent les Canadiens en ces temps de confinement, des initiatives pour les réunir virtuellement surgissent partout au pays. L’une d’entre elles est le projet de murale virtuelle numérique Create Hope | Créer l’espoir.

L’initiative consiste à compiler des interprétations visuelles du concept d’espoir. Elle s’adresse en premier lieu aux enfants qui, comme le reste du monde, sont en quarantaine pour une période indéterminée.

Le projet repose sur deux initiatives lancées par Rodrigo et Paola Ardiles Gamboa, frère et sœur, soit le Dundas West Public Museum de Toronto (géré principalement par l’ONG Creativo Arts) et la coopérative de promotion de la santé Bridge for Health basée à Vancouver. Le mot-clé avec lequel ils veulent faire résonner le projet au pays est #createhopemural.

1375 Dundas St. W

1375 Dundas St. W

1375 Dundas St. W
Dying Ocean

The Essencia Arts Collective believes that art can be a tool for social change and community empowerment. With members from across six continents, Essencia expresses itself from a unique and global perspective. Having over 10 years experience working in diverse communities around the world, the collective has run artistic projects with youth, first nations, refugees, immigrants, prison inmates, galleries, and festivals. Essencia encourages artistic storytelling, and expresses itself through muralism, street art, graffiti, graphic design, photography, video, music, poetry, dance and love!

By focusing on the four elements (Earth, Fire, Water, Air) and the four cardinal directions, Essencia aims to pay homage to Mother Earth, and to encourage balance, unity, and love.

Artwork Information
  • Title: Dying Ocaen
  • Creation Date: 2013
  • Address: 1375 Dundas St. W
  • Artist: Essencia Collective


Essencia Collective

“We believe that artistic expression is our strongest tool, and that it can be used as a catalyst for expression and as a forum for dialogue. We can then begin to focus on important global and local issues of our societies, and celebrate cultural and artistic diversity.”


This artwork is proudly hosted by Mezu Restaurant1375 Dundas St  West.

Hosts ensure a long life to the artworks by acting as their custodians. If you would like to know more about the Dundas West Open Air Museum hosts program then please contact us at hosts@dundaswest.museum