In View: Moments from Canadian Photographic History

2013, History, Temporary Exhibit, Toronto Pearson International Airport
archival photos, cameras, film, photography, Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, stereography, technology
About This Project

Date: March 22 – Oct 1, 2013

Partner: Toronto Pearson International Airport

Venue: The Malton Gallery, Terminal 1 – map

Project Members: Chelsea Jeffery


This exhibition opens visitors’ eyes to the beauty of historical photographic objects and images, using moments in the history of photographic processes and objects as a series of entry points into the subject. Welcoming and delighting visitors with a variety of objects that offer visitors the possibility of experiencing nostalgia and novelty, the exhibition promotes interest in this fascinating area of history and collecting, with a view to eliciting greater awareness and enjoyment of the history of photography in Canada.


In View: Moments from Canadian Photographic History is primarily geared towards travelers at the airport and is also of interest to photographic history buffs and attendees to the CONTACT Photography Festival.


The exhibition is located within the Malton Gallery, in Terminal 1 of Toronto Pearson Airport. As the gallery is located before security, members of the public are free to attend the exhibition even if they are not travelling.


This exhibition was organized as part of an annual partnership between the Art and Exhibitions Program at Toronto Pearson International Airport, which funded the project, and the graduate program in Museum Studies at the University of Toronto. The exhibition was formed using the collections of members of the Photographic Historical Society of Canada (PHSC).


Planning for In View began in September of 2012 when the partnership between the PHSC and the Airport was established. I spent the first few months researching the subject area and devising a curatorial thesis. I conducted visits to members’ collections from November to January, refining the scope of the exhibition and performing object-based research throughout this period. I composed and edited the text over the months of February and March. The objects from the five collectors were obtained in early April, and installation happened on April 17th, 2013. The exhibition opened on April 19th, will remain open for the summer, and runs until September.


The exhibition includes over 160 objects and spans the 1840s to the 1980s, with a focus on the twentieth century. Exhibited objects include seventy-one cameras, thirty-three accessories, and over eighty photographs covering a range of historical processes including Daguerreotypes, cyanotypes, photographic lockets, and opaltypes. The photographs will be rotated twice during the exhibition period due to their extreme light sensitivity, offering repeat visitors new objects to admire. The exhibition is organized into thematic rather than chronological areas and provides visitors opportunities to discover the aesthetic qualities of the objects, learn unusual and delightful facts through the many individual object labels, and rediscover the cameras of their past.


As a result of visiting this exhibition, visitors may come to a greater awareness of the material history of photography in Canada, and might reflect upon the ways that photography has both changed significantly and remained constant in both material form and meaning for the people who have used these cameras and taken these photographs over the nearly two centuries since its invention. Although cameras and the processes by which we capture light and create images have changed significantly over time, photographic images themselves have served as a touchstone for memory, as a way of viewing the world around us, as a means by which we experience our world and our existence.


I’d like to thank Toronto Pearson Airport for its generous support of this exhibition, and Lee Petrie for her invaluable project management and mentorship throughout the process. I’d also like to thank the PHSC as a whole for their support of the project, and the collectors who contributed their time, expertise, and incredible collections – Clint Hryhorijiw, John Kantymir, Robert Lansdale, John Linsky, and Robert Wilson. Finally, I’d like to thank Professor Matt Brower and my fellow students in the Museum Studies program at the University of Toronto.