What do you want to see in the proposed Toronto Museum?
City council voted Thursday to move forward with plans to establish a Museum of Toronto inside Old City Hall. Metro asked curators, heritage experts and people with a connection to the city what they want to see on display.
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Allison Bain, executive director, Heritage Toronto
A dynamic and immersive space, of unexpected encounters, where visitors are amused and challenged. A collaborative representation of Toronto's development from meeting place to home — the traditional territory of Indigenous Peoples (the Wendat, Anishinabek Nation, Haudenosaunee Confederacy and Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nations) that became the place where millions of immigrants settled from around the world. A city faced with choices and challenges, strengthened by its diverse communities and set apart by its unique stories: from woolly mammoths on Bloor Street, to the Clown Riot of 1855, to our ghost subway stations.
Ed Conroy, curator and documentarian, RetroOntario
I dream of a Toronto museum that would feature a state-of-the-art screening room/theatre, with a neon-lit Yonge Street vibe in the lobby, where festivals and screenings of historic Toronto TV and films could take place.
I'd mix it up with an eclectic range of subjects within specific theme nights, e.g., the CN Tower in 1980s movies, TV shows and commercials; reflecting multiculturalism in 1970s Toronto-based sitcoms; Scarborough as wasteland in 1990s horror films.
The content library should be exhaustive and also available digitally so viewers are not beholden to hours of operation. It might also become a haven for donations from local broadcasters, producers and agencies who have tranches of important historic Toronto footage, instead of them destroying it (which they mostly do now!). By the time such a museum is constructed I imagine we will be able to VR ourselves into a computer's reconstruction of the actual past, so they should also leave room for a fully functional Holodeck.
Elle Alconcel, curator, Daniels Spectrum
I would like to see installations made up of found objects or discarded materials from historic landmarks or buildings. (For example,) the city can commission artists to produce a piece of art using materials from the Honest Ed’s building demolition, or bricks from the demolished buildings in Regent Park. There is a huge history of Regent Park dating back to when it was built in the '40s to the revitalization that is currently underway.
Paul Roth, director, Ryerson Image Centre
I would like to see a rotating display of photographs by the great Arthur Goss, the City of Toronto's official photographer from 1911 through 1940. A prolific maker of beautiful and descriptive images for the municipal government, Goss left us the definitive visual history of this critical passage in Toronto's progress. I think visitors would love to see the world we live in now, as he saw it then.
Stacey LaForme, chief, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation
It has to tell the story of the history of this land, the history of Indigenous people. It should include a section on the value of Mother Earth. One thing that we all have in common is our connection to the Earth, and at one point in time we all knew the value of the land and the connection to the land, because we relied on her.
This is an opportunity for the general population to reconnect to the land. It should try to repatriate artifacts that were stolen from our people and bring them together in one place. And there are so many people with talent in the city, so many Indigenous people who make certain things but they have no market. If they have an opportunity (in the gift shop) to display their wares, leather work, clothing, anything of that nature.