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Explore Medieval Objects and Art from Europe at the AGO

Updated: Aug 7, 2022

Class Trips with Medieval Topics

08 June 2019 | T. Russo

The Medieval Objects and art are located with the Thomson Collection at the AGO with a gift of 350 objects from Europe ranging from the 1100s to 1700s, a donation by Kenneth R. Thomson. The medieval objects include the prayer beads featured in the exhibit, Small Wonders, last year as well as ceramics, decorative art, and ivories. Some scholars believe the Malmesbury Chasse is the most prized medieval piece in the collection as one of the world’s best-preserved Limoges chasses.

A chasse is a box or casket, often called a reliquary for holding relics and special objects, but especially relics of saints for Catholic churches in Europe during the Middle Ages. The term châsse is French for shrine so that the box becomes a shrine for a relic of bone, cloth, hair, or other item from the saint or owned by a saint. Other people of faiths, such as Buddists and Hindus, also have relics and use reliquaries to transport relics as gift giving or placed in churches and temples where pilgrimages are made for believers to visit the relics. The châsse at the AGO was made in the city of Limoges, located about 250 miles southwest of Paris, where some of the best porcelain is crafted. The city, first called Augustoritum by the Romans in Antiquity and founded on the riverbank of Vienne, was located at the crossroads of Roman trade routes and famous for a stop on a pilgrimage route; hence, artisans specialized in creating these shrines. The Malmesbury Chasse was crafted between 1180 to 1190 from champlev-enamel (metal plate with pulverized vitreous enamel), cooper gilt and crystal.

In addition, to this treasure, the collection includes Pax, The Adoration of the Magi from Germany around the 1400s and many ivories based on Biblical stories of the Old and New Testament. See the AGO and Thomson Collection. (Student groups can have a curator or guided tour of the Medieval collection.)

AGO: Highlights From The Collections of The Gallery of Ontario

How to cite this blog:

Russo, Teresa. "Explore Medieval Objects and Art from Europe at the AGO: Class Trips with Medieval Topics," Teaching the Middle Ages, June 8, 2019,

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