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Effective March 17th, the Ryerson Archives and Special Collections will be closed until further notice. See our update for more information.

The Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection at Ryerson University

The Heritage Camera Collection more than doubled in size this past January thanks to the generous donation of approximately 500 cameras and pieces of camera equipment from Wilfrid Laurier University. The collection improves the holdings in European and Japanese manufacturers, and provides a greater selection for research in early camera designs.

1920s studio camera from the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection
“Mouse trap” camera developed by William Henry Fox Talbot, ca. 1834 (replica made 2006) from the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection (2005.006.01.01)
Watch Camera from the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection (2005.006.06.02)
Polaroid Land camera, Automatic 110A from the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection (2005.003.2.17.03)
Crystar camera (2005.006.08.64) next to Pony 135 for size comparison. The Crystar measures only 3.5 x 5.5 x 3 cm. From the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection.

A Model Practice : Photographs from the Canadian Architect magazine archive

Architectural models breath life into otherwise straightforward ideas on paper; they easily and quickly communicate complex design schemes, embellishments, finishes and details, and they facilitate an easier dialogue between architect and client. Well-crafted architectural models even win competitions. While these models are very rarely preserved once building is begun, the realized design in miniature form represents the very essence of the architectural practice.

From January 4th- February 13th, 2012, photographs of models taken for Canadian Architect magazine will be on display in Special Collections on the Library’s 4th floor. These images were originally captured for project announcements, and today they give us as much to discuss as the finished buildings themselves. See the process that the architect goes through when bringing his or her idea to the public, and consider some of the challenges the architect faces in communicating with that audience. Is it useful to see the detailed model superimposed onto a photograph of the existing landscape, as with the Toronto Eaton Centre image? Why do some architects choose to put contextual detail in the model itself, making tiny trees and cars on the adjacent streets? Every model has a purpose and an audience, which is perhaps even more apparent in the scenic model taken from the set design for a CBC television special [borrowed from the Robert Hackborn collection for comparison’s sake]. With this model, the purpose is to show the interior to the cameras – not the exterior to a client.

Whatever the goal with these miniature worlds, either to emulate a real three-dimensional building as closely as possible or three walls that merely suggest one, the model serves as a stepping stone to the final idea. Here the idea of architecture is on display – judge for yourselves whether the real lives up to the imagined.

Canadian Fashion from the 60s, 70s and 80s on display

Style changed forever in the 1960s (and we’re not just referring to the hemlines). Space-age design met space-age fabrics, many of which are still in use today: polyamide, polyester, acrylic, polyvinyl, and spandex to name a few. These are laboratory-brewed fibres, extruded through spinnerettes in liquid or molten petro-chemical streams. These were cheaper and more versatile than many of the natural fibres used in clothing up to this point.

The dresses currently on display in Special Collections each use an unexpected fabric to achieve their look, whether it is the plasticized cloth of this shiny-copper mini-dress, the silver lurex suit with multicolored threads from the disco-influenced 70s, or the 100% silk power suit from the 80s. Visit Special Collections today to see these fashionable fabrics produced by Canadian designers.

The dresses in this exhibit were taken from the Fashion Research Collection at Ryerson University, a collection of costume items, accessories, flat textiles and paper patterns donated to the School of Fashion for use in teaching and research. The collection consists of about 4,500 items of mid-twentieth century men’s, women’s and children’s clothes and accessories and illustrates many of the social, cultural, technological and economic influcences on style made or worn in Canada. It contains designs by leading Canadian figures such as Beate Ziegert, Ira Berg and Pat McDonagh, as well as internationally famous names such as Sonia Rykiel, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Givenchy, Diane von Furstenberg, Perry Ellis, Laura Ashley, Thierry Mugler and Valentino.  There are also pattern and reference books, magazines and articles which are not duplicated in the Ryerson Library catalogue, making this a rich and valuable resource for fashion education.

Cameras on display in Special Collections

Taking a vacation this summer or just dreaming of one? Either way you can fantasize about the lovely pictures you’d take with one of the cameras on display in Special Collections. Visit us on the 4th floor of the Ryerson Library this summer to see a rotating display of cameras from the past.

First up: Kodak through the years, featuring still and motion-picture cameras from the company’s early years right up to the Advantix point and shoot system popular in the 1990s. Film projectors like the Kodascope (see below), are also on display.

The Kodak No.1 Brownie camera, ca. 1900-1916 Kodak Canada Corporate Archives & Heritage Collection (2005.001.7.005)
Kodascope Model B 16mm film projector, 1927-1929 Kodak Canada Corporate Archives & Heritage Collection (2005.001.7.166)
Kodak Retinette 1B, ca. 1959-1963 Kodak Canada Corporate Archives & Heritage Collection (2005.001.7.055)
Kodak Vigilant Junior Six-20 camera, 1940-1949 Kodak Canada Corporate Archives & Heritage Collection (2005.001.7.043)
Instamatic 154, ca. 1965-1968 Kodak Canada Corporate Archives & Heritage Collection (2005.001.7.125)

Butterflies in Special Collections

Photographs from Flora and Flutterbyes: Nature as Inspiration and Decoration currently on display in Special Collections, April 21 – June 8, 2011. Specimens courtesy the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory.

The Ulysses Butterfly on green turf in the display case.

The idea for the springtime butterfly theme emerged from the same cocoon as another great exhibit idea: the Ryerson student-curated “With Us at Every Age: Selected Animal Photographs from the Mira Godard Research Centre” (runs April 13 – May 7, 2011 at the IMA Gallery as part of the CONTACT Photography Festival). The student exhibit explores human-animal relationships through photography, and it includes the traditional and heart-warming portraits we expect to see of people and pets (cats and dogs included), but also draws attention to some of our more irrational relationships. The exhibit invites us to consider our creation of rare to absurd animalia: a toy stork in a children’s window display or a bear rug on a wall, and shows us images of aging with pets (and pet-themed ceramics). The use of photography as the medium works to both invite the viewer into these intimate worlds, yet provides a safe distance from which to consider the animals we have not treated so well.

For all the birds, reptiles and mammals that are showcased, we couldn’t help but notice a distinct avoidance of that other class of animals we see daily: insects. Though hardly the type of creature to develop a lasting bond with, these misunderstood and sometimes repellant animals also inhabit our homes and inform our relationships with each other. In some cases, as with the butterfly, the insect is seen as a source of inspiration and enjoyment. The butterfly’s colours are copied for our clothes, its pattern in flight informs our social graces, its taste for the most vibrant and delicate flowers expresses a certain model of femininity, and its ability to withdraw from the world and transform helps us describe our desire for second chances. The butterfly is so familiar, but unlike the subjects in “With Us at Every Age,” how many have we ever seen? Using both photography and preserved specimens, we invite you to browse the 4th floor display and be inspired by nature.


The butterfly specimens were borrowed from the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory, where at least 2000 free-flying tropical butterflies and moths are on exhibit throughout the year. Bred in Costa Rica or the Philippines, these vibrantly-coloured species metamorphose on arrival in Canada inside equally colourful chrysalides (also know as pupae), and flit about their business in an indoor rainforest as part of an effort to preserve butterfly populations through a sustainable form of agriculture. Here they offer us a fascinating look at the incredible variety of species in the wild.

The Ulysses Butterfly (left) and Blue Morpho see from both angles (dorsal – purplish colouring / ventral – spotted brown)
The Monarch Butterfly, the most familiar butterfly in Canada.
A Clipper Butterfly on green turf in the display.

Raw Materials: Inuit sculpture from the Sylvia A. Morley Collection

In the early 1950s, the first large scale north-south cultural exchanges in Canada established the market for what we now refer to as Inuit Art. The first communities to begin selling their work to a southern market in any organized way were Inukjuak and Puvirnituq (Quebec) and Cape Dorset/Kinngait (Baffin Island).  The sculptures from this early period tend to be small, easily transportable works created by what was still a nomadic people. In the late 1950s and early 60s, carving became a significant source of income within newly formed Inuit-owned co-operatives, and for many today it continues to provide a living while also supplying the means to express pride in their culture and their craft.

Special Collections received a donation of Inuit sculpture from a former Ryerson student who actively collected, both through galleries in the Toronto area and in person at northern co-ops. The small display on the Library’s 4th floor offers us an opportunity to discuss the use of materials from different regions, as she collected examples from across the Arctic (perhaps favouring Baffin Island and Labrador), and the growing art production within the Inuit communities over the latter half of the 20th century. The display also precedes the opening of a much larger exhibition of contemporary Inuit art scheduled to open at the Art Gallery of Ontario on April 2nd: Inuit Modern: The Samuel and Ester Sarick Collection. To learn more about these items and their creators, visit Special Collections and the AGO this spring.

Miki, Andy, 1918-1983 Bird figure, abstract [date unknown] stone, dark to light grey Arviat, Kivalliq region of Nunavut

Palliser, William, 1947- Hunter in Kayak, 1996 North West River Area, Labrador

Pisuktie, Josie, 1901-
Bird figure, black
[date unknown]
stone
Iqaluit, Baffin Island region of Nunavut

Sannertannu, Annie Anaronar, 1913-
Standing figure
[date unknown]
soapstone
Repulse Bay/ Naujaat in Nunavut

What’s on the Table: The Designer’s Response

For those of you who were not able to visit the Library during the meet-and-greet with student designers last week, you still have two more weeks to view the products of their labour in the Special Collections display cases on the 4th floor. Students in a first year Interior Design course at Ryerson partnered with The Stop Community Food Centre to design a fund-raising item for their annual gala, which helps raise money for The Stop’s critical anti-hunger programs and services.

The exhibit was curated by Professor Lorella Di Cintio. Items will be on display from Feb 22nd to March 7th.

A bowl that can also be used as a cup, by student Iona Ionescu
A natural spoon, by student Kristalee Berger
Salad fork and spoon, by student Dorota Lemierzwicz

FACES contest closes, winners will be notified by email

Thanks to all who participated in our holiday quiz for 2010/11! Two lucky winners will receive emails notifying them of their prizes: Grand Prize $50 bookstore gift certificate for correctly identifying the famous faces OR a Second Prize $25 Starbucks gift card for guessing the Bonus Face correctly.

Want to see how you did on the quiz? Check out the answers below or on the 4th floor of the Library, in the Special Collections display cases (to see the accompanying portraits).

Faces exhibition advertisement, contest closed and answers revealed

1. Marian Anderson, 1897-1993 Singer, performer, diplomat, trailblazer

“Marian Anderson Award: Marian Anderson Bio,” 2005. http://www.marianandersonaward.org/default.aspx?page=bio

2. Eugène Atget, 1857-1927 Actor, Photographer, Documentarian

“Eugene Atget / Biography & Images.” http://www.atgetphotography.com/The-Photographers/Eugene-Atget.html

3. Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865 President, Orator, Egalitarian

“Abraham Lincoln | The White House.” 

4. Audrey Hepburn, 1929-1993 Actress, Dancer, Humanitarian

“Audrey Hepburn’s Children’s Fund – The Real Audrey.” 

5. Winston Spencer Churchill, 1874-1965 Prime Minister, Soldier, Strategist

“Why study Winston Churchill?” 

6. Vladimir Ilʹich Lenin, 1870-1924 Rebel, Communist, Exigent Leader

Ryerson Library Catalogue resources

7. Elizabeth II, Queen of Great Britain, 1926-  Queen, Patron, Animal lover

“Her Majesty the Queen,” 2010/11. 

8. Georgia O’Keeffe, 1887-1986 Painter, Model, Modernist

“O’Keeffe Museum > Her Life,” 2008.

9. Mahátma Gándhí,  1869-1948 Spiritual Leader, Reformer, Pacifist

“National Gandhi Museum,” 2011.

10. St. Nicholas, ?- 343 Bishop, Saint, Icon

“St. Nicholas Centre: Discovering the Truth about Santa Claus,” 2002-2010. 

BONUS: Cecile Farnum, Communications Librarian
Subject Liaison: Gerontology, Occupational and Public Health, Philosophy