Saturday, 30 July 2016



July has flown past and it’s hard to believe that it is already time for me to announce Musings’ annual summer hiatus. Our contributing editors have been hard at work this summer at their respective internships and researching and writing articles. The month of August will be a much needed break to relax because the new school year is just around the corner.

Eating popsicles outside the ROM. Because you can't eat them in the museum. You can find more about the relationship between food and museums here. (Photo by author)

This summer’s writers have produced an astounding variety of articles bringing attention to trends, issues and events in the museum industry. But we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful readers! Your engagement has made this blog such a wonderful and supportive platform for our writers. I’m proud to say that we’ve had an amazing summer season full of thoughtful comments from readers on both our Twitter and Facebook pages. Below are just a few highlights of some of the articles we published this summer:

1. An assortment of Museum Mysteries for your summer reading pleasure.

2. Whether you're starving for knowledge or just plain hungry,  check out the Grad School Guide to places to eat on campus.

3. If you are feeling fashionable, here's a museological take on the annual Met Gala.

4. A collection of museum podcasts for those long summer roadtrips.

I’d like to take a moment to welcome the incoming class of 2018. I’m looking forward to meeting you all. Next September, Musings will be returning with a new crop of writers and a full schedule. Our returning writers already have some plans in place for some of the exciting content to be introduced in September. New students interested in writing for Musings please look out for the call for new contributors during orientation in September. I hope you all have a wonderful summer vacation and I invite you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to be the first to know when we return in the autumn with more Musings.

Friday, 29 July 2016




Museum objects can have an amazing effect on people.  They have the ability to connect individuals inspire them to make new meanings, and create lasting bonds.  For my last post over the summer I thought it would be fantastic to outline two touching stories of students that connected with “objects”.    

“My object is an expenditure ledger that belonged to a soldier of the First World War and was an employee of Eaton's prior to enlistment. My research is for an upcoming exhibition at Mackenzie House, "Eaton's Goes to War", which explores the corporate giant's dedication to its employees overseas as well as to the personal histories of soldiers, as told by their descendants.  This ledger is special because it is from 1914-1915, a year before Henry Roland Garneault Agassiz enlisted. He was killed in the battle of the Somme in 1917, leaving behind a wife and five children, four of which made it to adulthood. ... I spoke with the grand daughter and great grandson of Henry Ronald Garneault Agassiz, and they remembered the bravery and resourcefulness of Henry Roland Garneault's wife Eugenie and her oldest child, Alfred. Henry Ronald Garneault's expenditure ledger, which I uncovered in the archives of the city of Toronto, painstakingly records all of his expenditures, showing that he received 15 dollars a month from Eaton's. When he purchased something for his wife or children, he would write their names next to it… The artifact, which just about anyone can access and touch, is a testament to this man's love for his family and a time capsule, as he records the price of all his purchases as well as the stores he visited, many of which no longer exist.” – Stephanie, Mackenzie House.

Personal Photo Credit: Stephanie R. 
Throughout this summer, students have also discovered that it was not only objects that captured our hearts, but also animals.  The memory is described perfectly, just like the fading summer, and I can only imagine the beautiful scene:

"Merlin the Rainbow Macaw and I have been bonding through games of Peekaboo at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic" – Shanlon, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic


Although our summer will soon come to a close, we will still remember our experiences we learnt, the people we worked with and the objects we cared for.  I hope that everyone enjoys their vacation and made many memories. 

Wednesday, 27 July 2016




Welcome to the last summer instalment of What’s Happening Wednesday! I hope you’ve been able to attend some of the events, but if not then this is your last chance! There are some great finds below, including a film screening, an exhibit of paintings of Leonardo DiCaprio, and an exhibit curated by two MMSt students.

1. The BSM’s Inuit Film Series - Ghost Noise

The Bata Shoe Museum presents Ghost Noise as part of their ongoing Inuit Film Series. This film leads the audience into the magical world of third generation Inuit artist, Shuvinai Ashoona whose drawings reflect personal experience, Inuit mythology and the Arctic landscape. More info here.
  • Where: Bata Shoe Museum, 327 Bloor Street W., Toronto ON
  • When: August 11 at 6:00 pm 
  • Cost: Included with Pay-What-You-Can admission
Black Cat, Lauren Nurse, stone lithography on Japanese paper, 2010, 20" x 30", 1/4. Source.  
2. Open Studio's Summer Salon

This exhibit, on from August 5 to 19, is co-curated by Bridget Collings and Brenna Pladsen, two second year MMSt students who interned at Open Studio this summer. The exhibit will feature a selection of original prints by significant Canadian artists. Be sure to come out and support Bridget and Brenna at the opening reception on August 6 from 2 to 4 pm. More info here.
  • Where: Open Studio, 401 Richmond Street West, Suite 104, Toronto, ON 
  • When: Opening reception Saturday, August 6, 2 to 4 pm 
  • Cost: Free!
Just a taste of what the exhibit includes! Source
3. Draw Me Like One of Your French Girls at Steam Whistle Brewery 

This exhibit is a slightly tongue in cheek collection of paintings and drawings of Leonardo DiCaprio throughout his career. Be sure to catch it in Steam Whistle’s exhibition space before August 31! More info here.
  • Where: Steam Whistle Brewing, 255 Bremner Blvd Toronto, ON 
  • When: Opening Reception August 3rd, 7-11pm 
  • Cost: Free! 

Well that's all for this month, folks. Remember to leave me a comment with a new event happening near you, or reach out to me on Twitter! See you in September!

Monday, 25 July 2016




This summer I had the opportunity to intern with the Art Museum at University of Toronto, working with the Art on Campus Program. This meant I got to spend my summer immersed in my happy place: fine art collections. My role also gave me an opportunity to explore some of the amazing collections held on campus so I thought that for my last column of the summer I would feature a few of my favourite collections. Without further ado, here is a list of some of the material you may have the opportunity to find at University of Toronto:

Adam and Eve, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, is currently on display at Art Museum (Source)

1. I would be remiss if I did not start this list with the collections under the purview of Art Museum at University of Toronto. In fact, Art Museum is the steward of not one but three distinct collections: the University of Toronto Collection, The University College Collection, the Hart House Collection and the Malcove Collection. Each of these collections developed in different ways and contains treasures of Canadian and European art. The U of T Collection, University College Collection and Hart House Collection were all developed organically before Art Museum existed and feature Canadian art by First Nations and Inuit artists, the Group of Seven, Painters 11, Beaver Hall Group and a range of contemporary Canadian artists. The Malcove Collection differs from the other three collections in that it was donated to U of T in it’s entirety and is primarily medieval material including icons, ivory sculpture and furniture. The highlight of the Malcove Collection is Adam and Eve, painted by Lucas Cranach the elder in 1538. If you don’t have a chance to visit the Art Museum, fear not! Art Museum participates in an extensive campus loan program called Art on Campus which places works from the U of T collection on public display in various faculties throughout University of Toronto. You may even see some works belonging to the collection in our very own Bissel Building.

They keep the good books behind glass at PIMS Library (Source)
2. The Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies (PIMS) Library located on the fourth floor of the Kelly Library is home to an amazing collection of rare books and medieval manuscripts. The PIMS library does not circulate their material but has a reputation with scholars of medieval culture. With 155,500 books, including illuminated manuscripts, the PIMS library collection is enough to make any medievalist weak in the knees.

Faculty Club takes great pride in their Art collection (Source)

3. Like Art Museum, the Faculty Club has developed it’s own collection of Canadian fine art including works by the Group of Seven. Since Faculty Club membership is now free for graduate students, it is worthwhile to take a tour of the art in the club and then cool off with a pint in the pub downstairs.

So there you have just a small, but by no means exhaustive, selection of some of the collections on campus. I may be able to feature more in a future column.

Friday, 22 July 2016




This is a time of mixed emotions for many of my cohort (myself included) as we say goodbye to a taste at professional life. I think it is safe to say most of us had amazing internship placements and the generosity of our host supervisors was instrumental to our success. That being said, there is an all-to-familiar feeling that this great experience has ended and that the looming student-life has crept back into our lives.

All of us on our last day #don'tforgetme. Source.
Since my 12-week placement at Canada's National Ballet School (NBS) was an amazing experience, I felt it was best to 'check-in' with a few more of us to find answers to one simple question:

What is the biggest takeaway from your internship?

Don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities! It’s amazing how supportive your colleagues can be when you show interest in a project.
- Khristine, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

I would say that one of my biggest takeaways from my internship is that it's important to take advantage of opportunities, or to create opportunities for yourself as much as possible.
- Anja, Toronto Ward Museum 

One of my biggest takeaways is the importance of using the resources available to you, and never being afraid to ask for help or guidance. I found the majority of the people I brought questions to were open and helpful, could always point me in the right direction, and were genuinely interested in supporting me in the projects I was doing.
- Taylor, City of Oshawa

My biggest takeaways are that it takes more than one department to successfully put together an exhibition, and that working in a small museum gives you more opportunities to work in areas that you've never experienced before.
- Tammy, Markham Museum

Working at Open Studio has emphasized the importance of collaboration and community for artist run centres. No task is too small and everyone pitches in to make sure each project is as successful as it can be. I've enjoyed the diverse set of tasks I've been able to do, thanks to the small size of the institution, and have come out of this internship with a better understanding of fundraising, print sales, public programming, collections management, database management and how to write for different medias.
- Bridget, Open Studio

There is no such thing as consistency in collections/record keeping. Make notes about what you're doing (aka leave a paper trail) even if you think it is super obvious; future generations of confused people will love you for it.
- Christine, Museum of Vancouver

I think the biggest takeaway is how important it is to know your audience. This sounds so redundant, I know. But I never saw how crucial it was until I started planning events here and realizing how much we plan events around donors and their preferences. This is also applicable to the museum setting - because you cannot have an effective museum audience for events and openings if you do not learn how to steward the people and make them want to join in  your cultural organization's events. The people and what they want are the key to audiences, donations and success. 
- Danielle, Canada's National Ballet School 

My biggest takeaway is that every aspect of running an arts centre or gallery is more intertwined than one would interpret from looking at the organization of our course. Departments aren't necessarily silos, especially at a smaller-sized institution, and every task counts towards achieving bigger picture results. During my internship I worked on tasks involving public programs, engagement, social media, writing copy for web content, gallery assistance, and more. I had the opportunity to work with amazing people in various positions, who were all working closely together to deliver meaningful programming.
- Emma, Koffler Gallery

You are stronger than you think. Yes you might be an intern but you are capable of more than you realize. So when someone throws you a daunting project: take a breath, and dive right in. If you don't think you will have time, or feel up to it, there are people that can help you along the way as well.
- Hayley, Canada Aviation and Space Museum

No matter how many times you've spell checked or fact checked your reports or labels, it's always worth another read - you will find something almost every time. Your supervisor is there to help you learn and grow as an employee/EMP, so take their advice and their criticisms. No matter how great you are you always have ways to improve! Don't get defensive when presented with constructive criticisms.
- Kate, Bytown Museum

One of my biggest takeaways is the importance of remembering to stay professional, especially in stressful situations. The way you treat your colleagues is just as important as the work you do.
- Rebecca, TIFF

Every job is important, and if you're willing to look, there is something to learn from every task no matter how mundane.
- Brenna, Open Studio

I will say farewell to this column with my biggest takeaway...

An internship is almost entirely about networking. Initially, I wanted my internship to be a formidable learning experience to build my resume for a full-time job after graduation. The reality is that my internship was a learning experience – but it has first and foremost been a networking opportunity. I have realized that professional connections are how I will get ahead in my career and I now appreciate the value of building these relationships.

Good luck to anyone still in their internships and incoming students - if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016




My internship this summer has led to my spending countless hours researching at the Toronto Reference Library. I've learned a lot about what the space holds over the course of a few short months, such as the Toronto Historical Newspaper Archive in the basement, the Arthur Conan Doyle Room. I had the opportunity on July 10th to check out the Maker Festival at the TRL, since I've been hearing quite a bit about the "Maker movement" in Toronto, especially in connection to the Royal Ontario Museum, which is preparing to launch its own Maker Space this fall.

Looking down at the first level of Maker Fest. Photo Cred: Stephanie Read 
For those of you not familiar with this Maker movement business, it is one which encourages STEAM innovation, participation and the sharing of space, resources and knowledge. Inventors, hackers, designers, hobbyists and artisans come together to share and discuss their research. Museums benefit by participating in Maker spaces because the latter provide spaces for children and adults to interact with technology and craft at their own pace. The Toronto Reference Library Maker Festival in July included many museums in its roster of innovators and artists, such as the Toronto Railway Museum, the ROM and Black Creek Pioneer Village. These events happen across the city and I urge you to check one out, especially if it is at the Toronto Reference Library, as it is a huge space bursting at the seams with fascinating demonstrations and installations. The event is also free, which goes a long way for me.

Don't mind if I do! PC: Stephanie Read
I gave myself about an hour to see the Festival, and it was hardly enough time. The library was packed with tables and objects, from a super-fast hydrogen-powered speed-bike (designed by U of T's own), to adorable R2-D2 robots (I accidentally called one C-3PO and predictably, chaos ensued). Origami-style garlands made by guests hung from the ceiling, and veritably every single taste was covered. I personally enjoyed visiting the Metro Marine Modellers of Toronto. They make gorgeous ships, and their work can be seen in the AGO's Thompson Collection of Ship Models (my second shout-out to that gallery... I think I have a problem!).

Racing boats by the Metro Marine Modellers of Toronto.
These guys are seriously good craftsmen! PC: Stephanie Read
Here were a few scenes from the event, which included the Make Change conference, panels, sessions, workshops and boutiques. I just want to say that during my visit, I thought of a lot about my fellow classmates and MMST alumni, many who are wonderful 'makers' in their own right!
The world's fastest human-powered bike, created by the University of Toronto
Human-Powered Vehicle Design Team. These guys are geniuses! PC: Stephanie Read
This printer by the Rochester Institute of Technology creates art with coffee drips.
 Suffice to say the table smelled good! PC: Stephanie Read
This is the first 3-D printer to blend filaments of colour, by ORD Solutions Inc.
 PC: Stephanie Read
BB-8 Builder's Club. Like the Mall Santa, the R/C BB-8 represents the real deal for
public events. Obviously this table was a hit and kudos to these women for still being so friendly at the end of the day.
PC: Stephanie Read
BoxMaker makes boxes! And dinosaurs. And cardboard batarangs. Love BoxMaker! PC: Stephanie Read
Birritt backpacks include an integrated power source so you can charge your tech while on the go! The bags are great too, with lots of handy pockets. (Psst, the buckles are decorative and actually attach with snap buttons). PC: Stephanie Read.
Excuse the over-exposure on this picture. Robot Missions created 3-D printed robots designed to help pick up garbage along the beach. They look so adorable and Wall-E-esque, roving around clutching discarded water bottles.
PC: Stephanie Read.
Russell Zeid, Backyard Blacksmith. PC: Stephanie Read
I thought I had seen everything and then I came into this room! PC: Stephanie Read
Although Maker month is over, satellite events do pop up often around the city, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled! This event is fantastic for all ages, though especially for children, as many of the activities are designed with kids in mind. Visit the Maker Festival website to learn more about participating innovators and upcoming events. 

See you next time, wild and wacky Toronto Makers! PC: Stephanie Read

Monday, 18 July 2016



Cory Michael Smith, Gotham (2016), Warner Bros.
With returning students just finishing up their internships and new students beginning their first year soon, I thought it might be nice to recap certain topics from this column, but also to explore an entirely new museum mystery by having readers go out to the ROM.                                                          

In another way, as a visitor guide for the past few years, I've also felt that I ought to do something other than suggest the usual ROM highlights so this scavenger hunt is far from simply being the usual survey of dinosaurs, mummies, Greek sculptures, European dioramas, camels and murals.

Finding the artifacts will be one thing, but the mystery I have is only best understood if you read the labels and panels that accompany the objects.

Cory Michael Smith, Gotham (2016), Warner Bros.
If you think yo that a certain object can't possibly find an object, you may actually be in the wrong gallery. Be very careful about your preconceived assumptions, some of these were chosen because they are tricky. expect a lot of backtracking too!

Good luck!

1. An inkpot. Where? Why? What? I'm not even sure.


2. IHS=Jesus

3. Where in the east did this dragon come from I wonder?

4. A woman playing the harp, but where?

5. These aren't just rocks, this is a whole array of stone tools from the time of our earlier ancestors from H. habilis to erectus, neanderthalensis and sapiens.


6. These obsidian points were ritual offerings from one of the most well known and socially and politically complex civilizations of the ancient world. They are known for their monuments, ball game, writing system and calendar. 


7. That's a peculiar hat and jacket... 


8. This is from East Asia, but the subject is of an oft forgotten indigenuous minority.


9. A red stoneware tea set. 


10. A perfume bottle, imported or local? Who knows!


11. A butterfly candlestick from a land divided by two poles.

12. A plastered skull from one of the most well known sites, and it barely has more than a label...


13. Incantations on a bowl 


14. That's an interesting moustache...

15. Your guess is close...but your scale is wrong.

16. Look at the colours! 

17. The city bears the name of the figure who owns this shield. Don't stare too hard!

18. At how many points did "East Meet West" again? 

19. Athena brings balance at another point between East and West.

20. Do these games look familiar?

21. Even here, the case is a bit high for me....

22. Back to the beginning, Flute player.


23. What is the Museum Mystery theme(s) this time?

Riddler Trophy: Source