The final year of my Master of Museum Studies degree (which I just completed!) was consumed with work on my major exhibition project. This project takes the place of a second year thesis, and I worked with three of my very good friends (Keely Bland, Hilary Walker, and Kristie Nairn) on an exhibition in partnership with the Ontario Heritage Trust. Our exhibition is Huzza for Freedom! Political Cartoons from the War of 1812, and it is on display at the Parliament Interpretive Centre (265 Front Street E) until September 1, 2014. Check it out if you are in town this summer!
Our exhibition showcases reproductions of political cartoons from the 1812 period, as well as several contemporary cartoons by Canadian artists whose work reflects upon War of 1812 commemoration and its significance to Canadian identity. We had a lot of fun selecting and researching these cartoons, and unpacking the complex historical symbolism and references in order to make these images legible to a modern audience.
Here is one of my favourite cartoons from the exhibition: Johnny Bull and the Alexandrians
(1814). It shows John Bull (Great Britain personified) demanding goods from the citizens of Alexandria
, who cower timidly before their powerful enemy. John Bull exclaims “I must have all your Flour – all your Tobacco – All your Provisions, All your Ships – All your Merchandize – every thing except your Porter
– keep them out of my sight, I’ve had enough of them already.” Porter and Perry refer to American naval officers Captain Perry and Captain Porter, who each led several American victories against British naval forces during the war.
A lot of hard work went into this project, and it was a very rewarding experience for all involved. I acted as the project manager of my group and learned a lot about how to effectively manage a team and keep on top of every aspect of the project, from small details to the big-picture vision.
We held a very well-attended opening reception on Wednesday, April 2, and we were so grateful to all of our classmates, OHT staff, family and friends who came out to support us! Here are a few photos of the event:
We had about 75 people come out to our opening reception – not too shabby!
My good friend Claire Morley checks out our display of etching tools.
Graeme MacKay, editorial cartoonist for the Hamilton Spectator, shows fellow cartoonists his work in our contemporary Canadian section.
Student curators (left to right): Hilary Walker, Kristie Nairn, Keely Bland, Oriana Duinker
I’ll end this post with my favourite cartoon detail from the entire exhibition. If you visit the exhibition this summer, keep your eyes peeled for this hilarious little detail. (I wanted to include this cartoon in the exhibit for many reasons, but it was the French horn reference that won this brass player over!)