Clothing is often cherished long after memories have begun to fade and the inevitable process of decay have begun. Such is the case with the silk wedding dress and bridal veil worn by Evelyn Normand Wilkie (1902-1969) in her 1927 wedding to Douglas Howard in Nova Scotia, Canada. Her homemade dress has now yellowed and the silk is shattered and given its poor condition the dress is an unlikely candidate for acceptance into a museum or study collection. This object biography probes the thingly presence of Wilkie’s wedding dress as an object and as the source of creative inspiration for the drawings of artist Sarah Casey that became the focus of a 2019 exhibition at Ryerson University in Toronto.
The Presence, Provenance and Presentness of a Non Artifact
David Alexander Pantalony
This article is a biography of a green tile collected from a Canadian hospital. It explores various properties of the tile in order to draw out lessons for research and display in museums. There are immediate sensory qualities of the tile that have inspired an exhibit about the colour green in medicine; there are aspects of the tile’s provenance that bring out multiple local and international narratives; there are stories of the tile’s present context that provide a powerful reminder that museum artifacts are not just vehicles for exploring the past, but for understanding what remains in the present.
Artifact Biography: A Variable Colour Mixer
Among the artifacts representing early research in experimental psychology at the University of Toronto is a precisely machined steel instrument of German manufacture. The provenance of this variable colour mixer opens onto a largely-forgotten history of research into colour perception that depended heavily on mechanical instruments of the spinning-wheel type. Like the broader practices and principles of experimental psychology, these instruments were widely disseminated during a period in which the German research-based model of university education was widely admired. For most of its early history at the University of Toronto, the experimental laboratory was run by a German, August Kirschmann (1860-1932), who led investigations into the psychological basis for aesthetic judgement, especially as it concerned colour perception. Kirschmann’s hostility to existing art criticism reflected his belief that experimental psychology could provide a coherent foundation to the language of aesthetics.