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Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) Presents Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts

The Art Gallery of Ontario is gearing up to launch Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts on November 20 and is pulling out all the stops to create a fully interactive, Gallery-wide experience. The exhibition, a Canadian exclusive, features more than 200 treasures spanning three centuries, including opulent jewellery, ornate weaponry, stunning artwork, and the Star of India – the legendary 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom II custom-built for His Highness Thakore Sahib Dharmendrasinhji Lakhajiraj of Rajkot.

Star of India – the legendary 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom II custom-built for His Highness Thakore Sahib Dharmendrasinhji Lakhajiraj of Rajkot. Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

Highlights of the AGO events and programming celebrating Maharaja:

* Live dance and music demonstrations will animate the exhibition on weekends, illustrating the key role that music and performance played in the royal courts of the maharajas. The demonstrations will encompass a variety of performing arts, and will run once every half-hour for approximately five minutes on weekend afternoons. They will also be performed on Members’ Preview Days (November 17 and 18), on weekdays during Christmas week (December 27-31) and March Break (March 14-18), and on Family Day (February 21).

* Maharaja Festival Week, presented January 26-30. Taking place during the week of Republic Day, Maharaja Festival Week will honour Indian culture and history, featuring live performances by Debashis Sinha with Shruti, and internationally heralded Toronto-based company inDANCE; a special film program in Jackman Hall; and a full day of interactive activities, including costume-making, dance lessons, and a live procession on AGO Family Sunday, January 30. A full schedule will be available soon at

* Maharaja Gala, Saturday, November 13 at the AGO. Co-chairs Deepa Mehta and Laura Rapp look forward to welcoming guests to a glamorous evening inspired by India’s Royal Courts, including a cocktail reception, an Indian inspired dinner from Chef Anne Yarymowich, dancing and an exclusive preview of the exhibition. While tickets to the Gala are sold out, the event features a Live Auction of Artistic Access, with three unique opportunities – a studio visit with artist Anish Kapoor; a trip to India and a visit with Deepa Mehta; and a dinner and conversation with author Salman Rushdie – that can be bid on in advance by calling 416-979-6681.

* Maharaja Talks will take place throughout the run of the exhibition, featuring renowned speakers including Stephen Inglis, adjunct curator of the exhibition, discussing Indian popular culture and courtly life on January 12; and ROM curator Deepali Dewan, speaking about the power of Deen Dayel’s photographs of the Maharajas of the nineteenth century. For the full schedule of Maharaja talks, visit

* The Maharaja Menu at FRANK gives visitors the chance to experience exotic flavours and opulent presentations evoking the royal courts of India. FRANK will offer a special three-course prix fixe menu made from the finest and freshest local products with authentic Indian spice blends. Available beginning November 17. For more information, visit

* shopAGO’s Maharaja Marketplace opens on November 17. From colourful spices to dazzling jewels and home accessories inspired by the palaces and kings of India, visitors are sure to find an exciting and memorable souvenir for themselves – or a unique gift for someone special. For more information, visit

* caféAGO makes it easy on families, with ready-to-go lunch packages that include a wrap or sandwich, a drink, fruit or veggies, dessert – and a colouring sheet and crayons for kids!. Beginning November 17. Kids’ Lunch $8.50 | Adult Lunch $10.50 (taxes included).

Thanks to the generous support of the Patrons of the Exhibition – Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., Rogers Communications Inc., and Scotiabank Group – the AGO’s Maharaja exhibition is free to visitors 25 years of age and under. Additionally, a special offer for families covers admission for up to four adults and an unlimited number of children for $66.

AGO members will enjoy an exclusive preview of the exhibition on November 17 and 18, and will be able to avoid lineups once the exhibition opens to the public with a special members-only lineup. Members never have to pre-book tickets and receive unlimited free admission to the exhibition throughout its run, plus special discounts at FRANK, shopAGO, caféAGO, and on the Maharaja talks.

Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts will be on view from November 20, 2010 to April 3, 2011. Organized in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, this is the first exhibition to comprehensively explore the opulent world of the maharajas and their unique culture of artistic patronage.

This exhibition has been financially assisted by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.


With a permanent collection of more than 79,450 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. In 2008, with a stunning new design by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the AGO opened its doors to the public amid international acclaim. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase made of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block along the Gallery’s façade; and the feature staircase, spiraling up through the roof of Walker Court and into the new contemporary galleries above. From the extensive Group of Seven collection to the dramatic new African art gallery; from the cutting-edge works in the Vivian & David Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, a highlight of the celebrated Thomson Collection, there is truly something for everyone at the AGO.

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