Tuesday, 24 January 2017




There is only one month left to go and see the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library's exhibition on Thomas Hardy, called "Moments of Vision: The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy." Aside from his rare books, manuscripts, and (my current personal obsession) ephemera, the exhibition space itself is really beautiful and befitting a special collection of antiquated literary significance.

Here is the official poster for the exhibition:

The Fisher Library has hosted some amazing exhibitions in recent years. For obvious reasons, they tend to focus on Book History, like "All in a Golden Afternoon", which featured their collection of rare Lewis Carroll material. 

They also look at the design of the books themselves, and not just the content or author, like they did with "Elegant Editions: Aspects of Victorian Book Design." 

Two of my favourite exhibitions they have featured have been a celebration of the University of Toronto's discovery of insulin and one called "Ars Medica: Medical Illustration Through the Ages," which I believe can still be viewed by tour groups who are accessing the archives. 

Even if you weren't able to catch these great shows, the material and ethos of each exhibition is captured in the library's commemorative exhibition catalogues, which are not only accessible through various U of T Libraries but for sale through the Fisher's website. Just last week in my Book History course we were discussing the value of these catalogues as interdisciplinary treasure troves. They feature research from a variety of fields and have gorgeous, delightfully curated visuals to accompany the engaging stories that are being told. Almost all major exhibitions anywhere have these catalogues for sale, and they are so much more than a way to bolster profits. The amount of work, care, passion, blood, sweat, and tears that go into exhibitions both large and small should be celebrated and remembered. They're not pointless nostalgia, they're records of research and archival materials, not to mention the fact that for relatively inexpensive prices people who are not able to travel the world and see these exhibitions can still experience them in context. 

Lastly, if you're one of the many, many students who are struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford to pay for special exhibitions or TTC around the city every time one opens, remember that there are dozens of pop-up exhibitions that are easily accessible and free all around campus. Robarts, UTAC, The U of T Art Museum, Massey College, The Jackman Humanities Building, Victoria College, Hart House, and St. Mike's are just some of the buildings that have permanent spaces reserved for temporary exhibitions. It's one the many things we pay for in our student fees and often neglect because we get so busy with our studies.

A suggestion: next time a meltdown is imminent, wander around campus and take in a small or large exhibition. Take 2 hours or 5 minutes, just treat yourself. You'll be surprised at how many wonderful things the university has to display and share. And if you have time in the next month, go and see the Thomas Hardy exhibition at the Fisher Library, before it's too late...


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