Technology + Communication in Markham

2020, Markham Museum
child-friendly, Communication, culture, family-friendly, history, Innovation, Markham, technology
About This Project

Date: March 28th 2020 – TBA
Partner: Markham Museum
Location: Markham Museum (9350 Markham Rd, Markham, ON), in the Print Shop
Project Members: Carly Hall and Georgia Grieve
Can you imagine life before your smartphone? Today, we are so accustomed to instant communication and access to information that it is hard to fathom communicating through postcards, Morse code, or party lines. The creation of new communication technologies not only changed the speed of communication to remote places, but it also transformed communities. The City of Markham has seen recent and rapid development as a result of innovative communication technologies and is now considered one of Canada’s technology hubs, hosting a high concentration of Canadian head offices for industry leaders such as IBM, AMD, Redline Communications, Huawei, Lenovo, and Qualcomm.
Technology + Communication in Markham explores the changes in the City of Markham’s communication technologies over the last 150 years. The sub-themes of the exhibit include accessibility, environmental impact, and mental health, and seeks to display how these social issues have changed and improved over time. Visitors are also encouraged to reflect and consider parallels between past and present communication tools.
The exhibit was created to complement the permanent display in the Print Shop, and to coincide with Markham Museum’s core programming values and the grade 1-8 Ontario Science and Technology curriculum. Approximately 400 square feet, the exhibit space is primarily used for educational programming for young school groups, families, and camps. With that in mind, we designed the exhibit to include educational and engaging didactic elements, including graphic text labels, objects from the permanent collection, an audio table of oral histories about party lines, and a historical instructional video on how to use a rotary phone. Including objects from the teaching collections was also important, as we wanted children to have hands-on learning opportunities with rotary phones, early cellphones, and typewriters.
The project was initially proposed in September 2019 by Markham Museum’s Curator, Janet Reid. Ideation for our BIG IDEA was finalized in November, marking the beginning of archival and object research. In January of 2020, an object list was approved, and exhibition text and exhibition design became our next focus. Final drafts of text panels and labels were approved and printed in late February.
Installation began by refreshing the space with an exciting colour pallet in mid-February. Later that month, we assisted Janet with object cleaning to prep objects for display. Additionally, we began placing orders for acrylic cases and furniture. Installation of furniture, objects, and text panels began in late February and concluded in the beginning of March. This allowed for the museum’s programming team to prepare for their March Break camps in the space with the exhibition fully installed. The exhibition was officially open as of March 28th, 2020.
Support from the Markham Museum staff was phenomenal, from the ideation phase through didactic text editing and painting to installation. We would like to heartily thank the entire staff at the Markham Museum, especially Janet Reid, Curator, and Mark Sheibmayr, Assistant Curator/Archivist for their gentle guidance and shared wisdom throughout the project. We would also like to thank Matthew Wright for his help with audio/visual elements, and Georgina Pioneer Village for lending us a telegraph key and sounder for display.