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A City in Souvenirs


Strange things happen when you start speaking to your colleagues. In my case, within an hour of meeting Courtney Stewart, I learned about a twist on the usual history-of-Toronto exhibits this city loves so much - it's called Wish You Were Here: A City and Its Souvenirs.

The exhibit has been put together by 2nd year students in the Museum Studies program at U of T. Every year, students work on something a bit different. This year, Courtney tells me, the idea is to "explore the notion of a souvenir - what constitutes one, commercially made kitch-types, personal objects, and so on."

The exhibition features souvenirs of Toronto (drawn from the City's own huge collection). It includes postcards, pendants, plates, ticket stubs, tea cups, t-shirts and more... all on display at Spadina House. The aim is to explore how souvenirs help us to remember and commemorate Toronto events, the changing urban landscape and the city's complex social and cultural makeup.

Courtney explains, "The space itself is divided to metaphorically manifest the two major themes - 'personal' souvenirs and 'shared' (collective memory)."

"The personal section contains 2 cases, one that consists of objects collected by the Austin Family (the family who lived in Spadina House), and the second case is a collection of souvenirs loaned by Toronto residents."

"The 'shared' section of the exhibition examines three cases - urban landscape, events, and contemporary Toronto souvenirs. These cases invite visitors to remember various Toronto events, buildings, and the current cultural diversity of the city."

In addition, visitors are also invited to leave their own mark on the exhibit. Possibilities include magnetic poetry, a map game, and a postcard writing activity.

The exhibit opened on March 24th and till run until Sept 30th. Hours are from 9am-4:30pm, so there's plenty of time to catch this one.

Spadina House is located at 285 Spadina, just up from Casa Loma.

For more info, contact Kevin Hebib - 416-338-0027


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