On March 15, 1900, Mr. George Agnew Reid, then President of the Ontario Society of Artists, convened a meeting of representatives from various top educational, government, business and arts organizations, as well as prominent citizens to discuss the organization of a public art gallery. The meeting was chaired by Sir (Byron) Edmund Walker and included representation from the Ontario Government, Canadian Institute, Public Library Board, Public School Board, High School Board, University of Toronto, Trinity University, Ontario Society of Artists, Board of Trade of Toronto, City Council, Guild of Civic Art, Women’s Art Association, Ontario Association of Architects, Canadian Club, Women’s Historical Society, and Central Ontario School of Art and Design. A group of approximately 50 representatives from this initial meeting met again on March 31, 1900 where they elected the first Provisional Council and agreed upon the first articles of incorporation. The Ontario Legislature passed the Act of Incorporation July 4, 1900, forming the Art Museum of Toronto.
In order to recognize the importance of its role in hosting art exhibitions, and it help distinguish the Art Museum of Toronto from the Royal Ontario Museum, the Council passed an amendment to change the name of the institution to the Art Gallery of Toronto. A Statute Law Amendment Act 1919 reflecting this name change was assented to April 24, 1919. Later, due to its rapidly expanding role throughout the province, the Art Gallery of Toronto became the Art Gallery of Ontario by an act of Parliament in July 1966. The Gallery has remained a private institution with a governing body of appointed and elected Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees was briefly named the Board of Directors from 1966 to 1968.