Patricia Flamboyant went to the Art Gallery of Ontario for the first time as the MAP Pass and Toronto’s Public Library card allowed her to access Picasso: Painting the Blue Period.
“I never imagined that I could see so many artworks by renowned and world-famous artists without paying anything for it. In my mind, this was always something very far from my reality,” said Flamboyant, who last month switched to the freezing weather in Toronto from the beaches of Rio de Janeiro.
Thanks to Toronto’s Public Library’s Museum + Arts Program, all Toronto residents are allowed to borrow free passes to many local museums and art galleries around the city. In addition, you can also have free access to plays and musical concerts — and even to the popular Toronto Zoo.
“Next week, I’m going to organize myself to go to the zoo. Admission is usually around $30, and I don’t know when I’d be able to make this visit without the MAP,” Flamboyant said.
The MAP Program started in 2007 and is an initiative that allows visits to various establishments in the city, promoting culture and democratizing access for all. The program returned this year on Nov. 20, after a period of online activities in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now everyone can explore the arts of Muslim civilizations through exhibitions, workshops, and live arts performances at the Aga Khan Museum, and enjoy dinosaurs, mummies, Chinese architecture and precious jewels at the Royal Ontario Museum just by showing their MAP Pass and their Toronto’s Public Library card.
Or one can visit the collection of 15,000 shoes and related artifacts at the Bata Shoe Museum on Bloor Street West, where 4,500 years of footwear history are displayed in four distinctive rotating galleries. This museum also offers innovative exhibitions, besides exciting workshops and programs.
Among the options available is also the Gardiner Museum, one of the few museums in the world focused on ceramics, and one of the most important specialty museums worldwide.
For Amiko Kung, who was unaware of the initiative, the MAP Pass was the incentive she needed to get her card from Toronto’s Public Library.
“I had no idea I could go to all these places for free. Now I’m definitely going to get a library card and save some money,” she said. “I think all the cultural options are interesting, but I think my first choice will be some theatre or musical concert so I can bring my boyfriend.”
Yanika Saluja, who went to Fort York National Historic Site, said the MAP Program is an amazing opportunity.
“It is amazing to have the possibility of accessing so many cultural places for free,” she said.
To check out a MAP Pass, visit a Toronto Public Library branch and request a pass to the location of interest. One pass is permitted per person, per week. Each venue has its own restrictions on the number of people admitted with a single pass, but generally, each pass admits two adults and two children. It is possible to take companions to explore the city.
Visit the Toronto Public Library’s website to see which branches of Toronto’s Public Library are offering passes to participating venues.