Temple of Fame: Staging Women’s Roles

2018, Aurora Museum & Archives, Culture, History
Aurora, Canada, entertainment, First World War, history, performing arts, suffrage, temperance, women, women’s groups
About This Project

Project Members: Kara Isozaki, Maeghan Jerry, Sarah Kelly

Venue: Aurora Museum & Archives, Aurora Room

Dates: April 25-June 10, 2018


A century ago, the women of Aurora produced The Temple of Fame: A Pageant of Famous Women. The performance featured historical and fictional female figures vying to be crowned by the Goddess of Fame. Grounded in this local production and the stories of its largely female cast and crew, the exhibition looks at how the roles and rights of Auroran and Canadian women changed in a time marked by the First World War, suffrage, and temperance.


The exhibition ​is part of the larger 100th Anniversary Celebration, which honours local women through community events, including a remount of the production on Mother’s Day weekend. The exhibition is intended for a local audience, and aims to provide a historical context to the associated remount of the play.


Temple of Fame: Staging Women’s Roles takes place in the Aurora Room of the historic schoolhouse at 22 Church Street, the rotating exhibition space belonging to the Aurora Museum & Archives.


The 100th Anniversary Celebration is funded through the Government of Canada’s Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Program. The Aurora Museum & Archives’ Curator, Shawna White, and Collections and Exhibitions Coordinator, Michelle Johnson, provided an immense amount of support and guidance at every stage of preparing and mounting this exhibition.


The process of researching, developing interpretive plans, and identifying key objects took place between October, 2017 and January, 2018. Over the following three months text panels were written and designed according to guidelines and support provided by graphic designers from Boulevard Design. Installation will begin on April 16th and will be completed on the 24th. The exhibition will open on April 25th and remain open until June 10th.


In the style of past Aurora Museum & Archives’ exhibitions, most of the information will be communicated through text panels. The exhibition has three thematic sections: mounting the production, the impact of WWI on the lives of Aurorans, and the activities of women’s groups. Interspersed among the panels will be descriptions of The Temple of Fame characters and biographies of the women who portrayed them. These tell stories about the cast and problematize discriminatory practices prevalent in the 1918 production, such as the use of blackface to portray people of colour. The exhibition will include cases displaying items related to the production and local life in 1918. A costume from the 2018 remount will also be displayed. It will be taken down for use during the performances and then returned, bringing attention to the larger Anniversary Celebration. Alongside interpretive text discussing the characters cut from the 1918 production, the exhibit will feature an interactive that invites visitors to identify individuals they think are worthy of the Crown of Fame.


The exhibition opening will launch the 100th Anniversary Celebration and feature costumed actors from the production’s remount. Most of the marketing for the opening and exhibition was conducted through the Town of Aurora and Aurora Museum & Archives’ social media channels under the umbrella of the Celebration. There are a number of promotional materials for the Celebration circulating Aurora, including pamphlets, banners, postcards, and buttons.


The opening reception of the exhibition and the Celebration has a projected attendance of 50 to 80 people. The exhibition is expected to be well attended by local audiences throughout its run due to its social media presence, a planned article in the local newspaper, and the circulation of banners and pamphlets around Aurora promoting the Celebration. It is also likely that those attending the remount of the production will be interested in exploring its history and visit the exhibition. With these opportunities for audience engagement, visitors will have the chance to learn about the names and stories of the female cast and crew of the 1918 production and consider those women in their own lives who deserve acknowledgement.


We would like to extend our appreciation to Shawna White and Michelle Johnson at the Aurora Museum & Archives as well as the Faculty of Information for funding our travel to Aurora.