Patterns: visible in art and audible in drums

On Saturday, June 21, 2014, Canada celebrated National Aboriginal Day. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection acknowledged Aboriginal heritage by incorporating a special activity in Drumming Circle, a seasonal ArtVenture Accessible Family Art Program. Led by members of the Peel Aboriginal Network, participants learned about Aboriginal culture, listened to ancestral storytelling and followed the beat with their own drums.

The drummers and participants engaged in a smudging ceremony, a method of burning sage leaves to cleanse the spirit and connect to the earth. The driving pulse of the drums and shakers orchestrated the performance, while ears and eyes were attentive to the cultural customs before them. The traditional songs played below tall pine trees echoed through the McMichael grounds and added a positive element to the day.

ArtVenture Accessible Family Art Programs are part of McMichael Accessible Programs. This program is designed for youth aged seven and up living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other special needs. Held on a quarterly basis, caregivers, parents and siblings are invited to join in the fun process of tactile art-making activities, dramatic play and social interaction.

To learn more about accessible programs at the McMichael, visit:

Make 2014 a mosaic of creativity

How will you inaugurate the New Year?

If you are pining for creative expression and starting things off on a positive note, check out Canadian Mosaic on Thursday, January 2 at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

This event marks our second installment of ArtVenture Accessible Family Art Programs and we want to celebrate it with you. At Canadian Mosaic, you’ll visit the gallery to explore our vast collection of Canadian art, both classic and contemporary. At the studio, various mosaic techniques will be taught, inspiring you to apply the surrounding winter landscape and McMichael collection to your work.

Let’s make the New Year positive by building it piece by piece at Canadian Mosaic!

Register early – spots fill quickly!

Visit the program page for cost and registration information.


McMichael adventures with the maple leaf

March break is always a special time at the McMichael, and a busy one, too.
That’s why they call it “March Break Madness,” after all!

This year, we offered our very first accessible art program, Canadian Maple Leaf Adventure, to conclude a busy week with some creatively quiet family time. On Saturday, March 16th, art instructor Anna Pallotta led five families on an adventure inspired by Canadian landscape and the lush greenery within it.

The program began with pencil sketches at Pine Cottage, where Anna showed the group how to do shading techniques overtop images of birch and maple trees. Following the warm-up activity, the group went on an exciting walk throughout the front entrance of the grounds. Anna distributed photographs she took of the McMichael landscape to each participant to scout out the exact location of each image. The scavenger hunt was a great way to explore the grounds and witness their reflection on the definitive Canadian work inside the gallery – the next destination.


Inside gallery one exploring the Group of Seven

As families gathered inside the Grand Hall, took of their coats, hats and mitts, Anna guided them throughout the gallery’s many Group of Seven exhibits. She engaged each participant with insightful questions, and everyone was able to make strong correlations between the works and personal experiences.


Anna discussing the Group of Seven’s siganture painting techniques



Later, the group wound down with the viewing of The West Wind, a film montage depicting a “day-in-the-life” of artists like Tom Thomson and A.Y. Jackson.

Anna accompanied the film with an even
more natural soundtrack
– a music compilationwestwinddvd from National Parks of Canada,
entitled the National Parks Project.  

It is a beautifully organic album comprised of 39 musicians dispered across 13 national parks. The groups spent five days in destinations that include the Bruce Peninsula, Cape Breton and Kluane. It’s a wonderful way to “capture the majesty of landcape through music and image.”


The best part about the McMichael is that we don’t need to travel to any of those three parks – we have majestic art and nature at our fingertips! And it’s all accessible, too.


Hope to see you at our next family art program!