On yet another museum visit, Chris and I checked out the current temporary exhibit at the Canadian Museum of History, “Notman, Visionary Photographer.” This exhibit is the first retrospective entirely devoted to exploring the work of William Notman, a photographer originally from Scotland, who immigrated to Canada and over the course of the late 19th century founded a chain of studios under the name Wm. Notman & Son.
Recently Chris and I ventured to the Canadian Museum of History to catch the temporary exhibit, “Medieval Europe: Power and Splendour” before it closed. In a past undergraduate life I actually was a bit of a medievalist, so I was pretty interested to check out this exhibit.
Yesterday Chris and I took advantage of the beautiful long weekend to take in one of the last days of the Butterflies in Flight exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Nature, and let me tell you, this one was really quite magical.
This past Wednesday on the 6th of December, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the opening of a new special exhibit hosted by the Canadian War Museum, called “She Who Tells a Story – Women Photographers From Iran and the Arab World.” The exhibit travelled to the War Museum from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where it was curated by Kristen Gresh. The exhibit featured the photographic work of twelve prominent contemporary female photographers who had roots in the Middle East. Each photographer captured images that reflected the lived experiences of women and girls in the Middle East within the context of war, the policing of bodies, and other unique factors which shape their daily lives. Gresh was in attendance to open the exhibit, and spoke about how her time in Cairo was what led her to the works and artists featured in the exhibit. Early in the exhibit itself, this story is featured:
Today I was lucky enough to be able to attend a lecture with my colleagues at the Canadian Museum Association, which was held at the Centre for Global Pluralism, and featured Dr. Maureen Matthews. Matthews is the curator of Ethnology at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg. In the talk, “We are not quite All Treaty People yet,” Matthews discussed the work she and the museum have done since her arrival there five years ago to not only improve the exhibits which discuss Indigenous people in Manitoba and Canada at the museum, but also the initiatives she has made in both the repatriation of Indigenous artifacts and fostering long-term, trusting and honest relationships with Indigenous communities in order to ensure that museums are telling stories for them, and not just about them.
While I was visiting the Royal Ontario Museum, I was fortunate enough to be able to see an exhibit called “The Family Camera.” This was a special exhibit, which unfortunately has finished it’s run now, so if you didn’t get a chance to see it, I’m sorry to say that you really missed out.
I’ve been spending some time digging through the online archive for The Ottawa Journal recently, and I have to say that I’ve stumbled upon some pretty fun columns. One of the first ones to catch my attention was published on May 27, 1886. It provides an account of an address given the previous night by Sir William Dawson to the Royal Society of Canada. Dawson suggested that it would be an advantageous idea for Ottawa to have a National Museum. Considering that there are now four directly in Ottawa and another just across the river in Gatineau, I’d say he was probably on to something….
When I visited Toronto for the first time this spring, one of the places that I spent some time exploring in was the BATA Shoe Museum. For those who have never been, it is about an 8 minute walk down the street from the Royal Ontario Museum, and a convenient skip over from the Museum subway stop. For someone completely uninitiated in the city, the fact that it was so easy to find was definitely a deciding factor in my decision to check it out.
Boy am I ever glad I did! Before going, I really didn’t know anything about the museum or what its exhibits would be about, but from the first exhibit to the last, the BATA is now my favourite museum that I have ever visited. Even if you aren’t interested in shoes or fashion history, don’t let that stop you from going. What I love about the BATA is that shoes are actually just the vehicle through which they explore a wide variety of important and interesting moments in history and the people carrying out their lives from all walks of life in all different types of footwear.
It should be no secret at this point that I basically live and breathe museums and want to know everything about how they work while working in and for and about them. This is how this story began. I decided to start using my free time to go to Library and Archives Canada to collect everything I possibly could that pertained in someway to Canada’s national museums. Collecting broadly and without a particular focus, I was open to whatever stories presented themselves to me and caught my attention. One of the first files that I collected was titled simply, “Specimens of wood bison for Victoria Memorial Museum.”
To conclude my research, I reflected on another concert experience that I had over the course of researching and writing about Kenneth Peacock and his role in the Newfoundland Folk Music Revival. On 21 November 2015, I attended a concert featuring two of my favourite musical groups, which I had purchased the tickets for myself several months before. My excitement over seeing the Barenaked Ladies for what would be my third time was at the highest possible level because they were being introduced by Alan Doyle and the Beautiful Gypsies, the new solo project by the Great Big Sea frontman. Somehow the fact that this would also be my third time seeing Alan Doyle perform did not diminish my excitement. For all of my building energy, months of listening to the music of both bands in preparation (despite already knowing all of their albums by heart), and sheer joy of being able to watch two of my favourite bands in one concert, what I did not expect was for the night to turn into a cathartic research moment.