Exhibitions | The Canadian Encyclopedia



Historical IntroductionExhibitions by definition are displays shown for a limited time period, either in one location or on tour, unlike permanent or changing displays in museums.


Historical Introduction
Exhibitions by definition are displays shown for a limited time period, either in one location or on tour, unlike permanent or changing displays in museums. The present entry is concerned only with the former; some of the latter are treated in the entries on Instrument Collections and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The list cannot be considered complete and deliberately omits the numerous small displays, shown from time to time in library, music school, or theatre lobbies. There have been countless exhibits of this sort, built around an anniversary, or the career of a recently deceased musician, or designed to develop interest in some genre of music or to show off highlights of a collection, etc.

As early as 1861 Richard S. Williams, the Toronto instrument manufacturer exhibited his collection of autographs and instruments at the Toronto Mechanics' Institute. Little evidence exists of large music exhibitions during the next 100 years. In 1967 the JMC (YMC) held an exhibition at its Man and Music pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal. A flourishing of exhibitions began with the establishment of a Music Division at the National Library of Canada and its first major music exhibition, devoted to the life and works of Healey Willan in 1972. Since that time the library has had musical items on display almost continuously and by 1991 had organized 9 major exhibitions, 9 medium ones, and 50 small displays, many of them seen at the NAC and outside Ottawa.

Exhibitions of Instruments

'Instrument Makers'. 1974. The Burnaby Art Gallery, Burnaby, BC; 48 early types of instruments made by British Columbia instrument makers.

'Marvellous Music Machines'. 1977. Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ont; the history of coin-operated music boxes, orchestrions, Wurlitzers, juke-boxes.

'Measure for Measure'. 1980-1. Peter Whyte Gallery, Banff, and in Regina, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoriaville, Que, and Toronto; handmade Canadian instruments from 25 makers. Researched and curated by Tony Bloom.

'The Look of Music'. 1980-1. Centennial Museum, Vancouver; over 300 rare instruments from Europe (ca 200) and North America on loan from museums and private collectors, date range 1534-1900. Phillip T. Young was special consultant, selected the show while on a sabbatical leave in 1978, and compiled the catalogue The Look of Music (Vancouver 1980). The original incentive was from Mrs. E.V. Koerner. This was one of the largest loan exhibitions ever assembled anywhere.

Exhibitions Devoted To Individuals

'Healey Willan: the Man and His Music'. 1972. NL of C, Ottawa, also Toronto. Organized by Helmut Kallmann. Revived in abbreviated version 1980-1 and shown in Antigonish, NS, Banff, Alta, Kingston, Ont, Ottawa, Toronto, and.Victoria, BC.

'Pierre Mercure'. 1976. Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris.

'Percy A.Scholes: 1877-1958'. 1977. NL of C, Ottawa. Organized by Maria Calderisi.

'Alexis Contant: the Composer and his Milieu/Le compositeur et son temps'. 1979. NL of C, Ottawa; also shown in Montreal and (1980) in Victoria, BC. Organized by Stephen Willis.

'Emma Albani: Évocation photographique '. 1980. PDA, Montreal. Researched and assembled by Gilles Potvin.

'Emma Albani: A Legend/Une diva de légende'. 1981. Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris. Same as preceding.

'Emma Albani'. 1983. Fort Chambly, Que. Organized by Parks Canada and the Cercle Joseph-Octave Dion. Exhibit material from various sources.

'Glenn Gould'. 1986. Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris and other European cities. Assembled by Thérèse Salviat.

'Glenn Gould 1988'. 1988. NL of C, Ottawa. Subsequently shown 1988-92 in various Canadian cities and in Tokyo. Organized by Helmut Kallmann with Ruth Pincoe.

'Rodolphe Mathieu: un musicien à connaître'. 1990. Chapelle du Bon-Pasteur, Montreal. Researched and coordinated by Anik Larose.

'Claude Champagne: Composer, Teacher, Musician/Compositeur, pédagogue, musicien'. 1990-1. NL of C, Ottawa; also in Montreal in a reduced version. Organized by Maureen Nevins.

Exhibitions On Other Topics

'Man and Music/L'Homme et la musique'. Expo 67, JMC pavilion, Montreal. Organized by Andrée Desautels.

'85 Years of Canadian Recorded Sound/85 ans d'enregistrements canadiens'. 1975. NL of C, Ottawa; reduced version shown at CNE, Toronto in 1977. Organized by Edward B. Moogk.

'Early Musical Canadiana/Retrospective musicale du Canada'. 1975. NL of C, Ottawa. Organized by Helmut Kallmann.

'Photo Musica'. 1977. Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, O'Keefe Centre, and St Lawrence Centre, Toronto, and NAC, Ottawa. Nearly 80 photos by Tony Hauser.

'Century of Sound'. 1977. Montreal. An exhibition catalogue, Century of Sound (Montreal 1977), was edited by Ifor Todoruk.

'L'illustration de la chanson folklorique au Québec'. 1980-1. Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal.

'Témoins de la vie musicale en Nouvelle-France'. 1981. McLennan Library of McGill University, Montreal. With cooperation of École de musique, Laval University and with materials from nine Province of Quebec institutions. An exhibition catalogue, Témoins de la vie musicale en Nouvelle-France (Quebec 1981), was edited by Élisabeth Gallat-Morin and Antoine Bouchard.

'Le Conservatoire a une histoire, 1943-1983'. 1983. CMM, Montreal. Compiled by Andrée Desautels and Gilles Potvin.

'Sounds Unseen'. 1983. Music Gallery, Toronto, and elsewhere; touring exhibit of sound sculptures by various artists and manuscripts by R. Murray Schafer.

'Lyrichoregra 20'. 1984. Ontario House, Paris. Assembled by Alain Nonat.

'La musique et les musiciens canadiens'. 1986. Salle Pleyel, Paris, concurrent with a visit by the TS.

'Exposition au monastère des Ursulines du Québec'. 1986. Ursuline Convent, Quebec City. Selected by Claire Grégoire-Reid and Micheline Vézina-Demers. (The contents are listed in Cahiers de l'ARMuQ, no 8, 1987.)

'Putting It Back Together'. 1988. Guelph Spring Festival; performance arts materials. Organized by Daniel Ladell with Leonard Conolly, from materials of COC, Stratford Festival Archives, Metro Toronto Library, NA of C, and other archives.

'Musique canadienne 1850-1950'. 1990. Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, Montreal. Assembled by Johanne Goyette.


Young, Phillip T. 'Four centuries of music history,' Canadian Collector, Nov/Dec 1980

Barclay, R.L. Anatomy of an Exhibition (Ottawa 1983)

'Prestige de la Lutherie française'. 1981. NAC, Ottawa; string instruments and bows from 18th century to the present on loan from the Musée instrumental du Cons de Paris and other collections.

[Double Reed instruments.] 1988. University of Victoria; loan exhibition of historic double reed instruments, created in connection with a meeting of the International Double Reed Society.

'Pipes and Pedals/Tuyaux et jeux'. 1983. NL of C, Ottawa; organs and organists in Canada. Organized by Stephen Willis.

'Bells through the Ages/Les cloches à travers les siècles'. 1986. NL of C, Ottawa. Organized by Stephen Willis.

'Handmade for Music'. 1987-9. Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, and other Ontario centres. Assembled by William Laskin.