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Toronto theatre mogul David Mirvish to stage his own shows

Will the Canadian collector showcase his expansive modern art collection?

If David Mirvish puts a private museum in one of the three 80-storey towers that Frank Gehry will design for him in Canada’s largest city, the public will finally see much of the theatre producer and property developer’s 1,200-strong collection of post-1945 Abstract and Pop art.

One of Canada’s most important collections of Modern art has up until now, been largely kept private. Mirvish’s plan for a museum in the $1bn three-tower ensemble reverses earlier wishes to keep the collection for the benefit of his family alone. Admission to the collection in the museum will be free, he promises. Mirvish, 68, a former art dealer, has huge property holdings in Toronto and has collected art since he was a teenager.

Toronto institutions are rich in new architecture and have a few major works, but they lack depth in much besides Canadian art. Post-war American works would have enhanced the holdings of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Its director Matthew Teitelbaum says he welcomes Mirvish’s bid to open his collection to the public.

Mirvish’s plan requires permission to demolish existing structures (theatres, which Mirvish owns). Sustaining Toronto’s feverish real estate boom is a crucial factor, since the sale of hundreds of apartments at boom prices will help fund the museum.

Not everything faces demolition. In situ works by Frank Stella (a Mirvish favourite) at the Princess of Wales Theater, finished in 1993, will be saved, Mirvish says.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Toronto theatre mogul to stage his own shows'