The Donovan Collection

About the Collection

THE DONOVAN COLLECTION of contemporary art at the University of St. Michael’s College includes over 400 works by 200+ artists. The works are in a wide range of media and styles and represent a cross-section of art exhibited in Toronto from the early 1980s to the present time. The collection is not in a separate gallery but is instead throughout the college, in office and classroom buildings, in the library and in student residences. It is a collection with which students, faculty, and staff are able to live and interact.

A full catalogue of artworks that together form The Donovan Collection is available below.

Image: Daniel Donovan, photograph by Linda Corbett.

THE DONOVAN COLLECTION is the result of the generosity and commitment of a single individual, Fr. Dan Donovan, a long-time professor at USMC.

Fr. Donovan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto and a graduate of St. Michael’s College, completed degrees in theology and Scripture at Laval University in Quebec City and the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome as well as a doctorate in theology at the University of Münster in Germany. He began teaching theology at USMC in 1971.

Exposure to some of the great art of Europe during his post-graduate studies sparked his initial interest in the visual arts. The first two works in the collection, woodcuts by the German Jewish artist Jacob Steinhardt, were purchased in Münster in 1967 and were thought of by Donovan at the time as souvenirs of his years in Europe.

In the fall of 1980 he donated to the College a large stainless steel sculpture by Kosso Eloul, entitled Zen West. Its installation in the small park at the corner of Bay and St Joseph Streets marked the beginning of Donovan’s serious commitment to Canadian art.

The focus of the collection was initially on work with a religious or more broadly spiritual content. The opening of the renovated Odette Hall in 1996 led to the donation of the collection as it then existed to St. Michael’s and to its installation on the two bottom floors of that building.

The collection expanded considerably during the early years of the present century with works now installed throughout the USMC campus.

Image: Amy Switzer, Word Bird: Loulou (2011).