Untold Stories: 150 Years of Research Culture at the University of Toronto

2017, Science, Temporary Exhibit, University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection
anniversary, history, installation photos, science, scientific instruments, University of Toronto
About This Project

Date: April 6, 2017 – Spring 2018

Partner: University of Toronto Scientific Instrument Collection

Venue: Third Floor of Victoria College – map

Project Members: Jasmine Fisher and Claudia Palermo


In a major institution like the University of Toronto, high profile discoveries are most often remembered, such as insulin, stem cell research, and electron microscopes. However, many researchers have worked on equally fascinating projects with much less recognition. Untold Stories uses scientific objects gathered from across U of T to uncover vital, but lesser known, research from 150 years of scientific study and teaching.


The exhibition is aimed at an audience of postsecondary students and professors – it is displayed in Victoria College, in a space frequented by students on their way to classes or working in the IHPST Grad student lounge and workspace. U of T students and staff are the primary audience. The UTSIC exhibition is held in this space every year as a joint effort between IHPST and Victoria College.


We were given funds by IHPST (Institute for History and Philosophy of Science and Technology), ArtSci Salon (with whom we shared reception costs), Victoria College, the iSchool fund, and Bryan Gaensler of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics. We used objects from the UTSIC collection, as well as object loans from the following departments: the Dunlap Institute, Chemical Engineering, Anthropology, Geolophysics, and Forestry.


The first stages of Untold Stories began in October 2016. Our original timeline had us choosing objects by January 2017 and having text finished by February 2017, but several partner-related setbacks had us finishing the design, text, and installation of the exhibition around the same time in early April 2017. We installed from March 31 to April 3, 2017, and our opening reception was on April 6, 2017.


Untold Stories uses 38 objects (many of which have multiple parts) in 8 different cases. The cases and objects were both separated by theme – Wartime Research, Testing, Exploring, Collection, Creating Solutions, and Teaching & Learning. Each theme had a large wall-mounted text panel and each object within had 1-2 text labels. We also had a large vinyl intro banner. We used various mounts to elevate and put emphasis on important objects.


We were advertised through UTSIC and IHPST’s Twitter accounts, and we were also included in ArtSci’s press announcement for their Cabinet Project, which was displayed in the same space as our exhibition. We also asked any departments from whom we got donations to market our exhibition as they saw fit, and we sent several rounds of invitations over the months leading up to the opening. We had no programming involved in our exhibition.


Our reception was attended by between 60-70 people, which for a small exhibition was a fairly successful turnout. We have no way of measuring how many people have attended the exhibition as a whole since it is displayed in an open public building.


We’d like to thank all of our sponsors, as well as UTSIC for allowing us to use their collection. We have to give huge thanks to Victoria Fisher, who helped tremendously in the research aspect of this project and who assisted us in getting object loans. Thanks to all our loan partners, as well as our curator Erich Weidenhammer and all of the IHPST grad students who helped us with research and install.