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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.

Previous Exhibits

In the Archives and Special Collections Display Case

2018 Photobook Award Winners

November 19, 2018 – June 24, 2019


As part of the MPS507, a 3rd year Ryerson University Image Arts class in The Photographic Book, students conceive of, and create their own photobook. This is, in part, related to work that has been completed in to co-requisite class, MPS506 – Photographic Production. These are both required courses for the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Image Arts) Photography studies option. Each year, the Library purchases the top photobooks in the class from the creator. The books are judged at the First Edition Photobook Show – an exhibition of the photobooks at the end of the semester. The library catalogues each book, and houses them in the Special Collections department, where they will be available for students and researchers.


In the Archives and Special Collections Display Case and Reading Room

Ryerson 7025

June 1, 2018 – October 31, 2018


Come celebrate Ryerson’s special double anniversary year – 70 years old and 25 years young.
In conjunction with University wide celebrations, The Ryerson University and Archives has created an exhibit looking back at the history of the school. The exhibit is divided into five sections – they are: 5 pivotal moments in Ryerson’s history; Student Groups and Clubs, Student Government, Student Housing, and Athletics and Intramurals.





In the Archives and Special Collections Display Case

Projecting Magic

October 25, 2017 – December 31, 2017



An exhibit of magic lantern projectors, hand-painted, lithographic and photographic glass slides from the John Tysall Magic Lantern Collection and Lorne Shields Historical Photograph Collection, highlighting the history of early optical projection and pre-cinematic technology. The exhibit is curated by Jocelyn Oprzedek and Olivia Wong and is on display in the hallway exhibit case.






In the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room

The Wellesley Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Association collection

May 27, 2017 – December 31, 2017

Nursing uniform and cape, Toronto General Hospital – Wellesley Division 1948-1959



The Wellesley Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Association collection of School, Hospital, and Alumnae Association records.










In the Archives & Special Collections Display Case

Canada 150: Picturing the Canadian Landscape




An exhibit of photographs, books, and cameras and ephemera from the Lorne Shields Historical Photograph collection, the Heritage Camera collection, and the Kodak Canada Corporate Archives and Heritage Collection showcasing Canada’s natural landscape and our interactions with it. Exhibit is curated by Image Arts students Bowie Fan, Gabriele Tai, Georgia Love, Justine Marasigan, and Lodoe Laura.





In the Special Collections Display Case

Special Collections 10th anniversary




2015 marked the 10 year anniversary of Special Collections at the Ryerson University Library and Archives. It seems like a good time time to have a look back at where we came from, and where we are headed.







In the Special Collections Display Case

First Edition Book Award

Fall 2015

We are thrilled to announce that 2015 marks the first annual awarding of the First Edition Book Awards, sponsored by Ryerson University Library Special Collections. The awardees this year are  Evan Hutchinson, Lodoe Laura, Lucy Lu, Emily Pleasance, Kristina Smith, Imogen Wallis-Mayer, and Rebecca Zynomirski.

Students in the third year of the Photography program at Ryerson conceive of and create their own photobook featuring their original work. The Library will purchase the top five books in the class each year. The books are judged at an exhibition of the books at the end of the semester. For evaluation, particular attention will be paid to design, sequencing, and integration of images and text. The books are catalogued and held in Special Collections. They are available for reference by students and the public for research.



In the Special Collections Display Case

Wellesley Hospital School of Nursing, Allumnae Association, 100th Anniversary

Summer 2015













In the Special Collections Display Case

Kodak in Toronto, 1899-2005: A Century of Traces

Spring 2015

The Home of Kodak in Canada, promotional material, 1942






Over the course of its 106-year presence in Toronto, Kodak affected more than just the history of photography in Canada. In satisfying its need for cutting edge photographic manufacturing facilities, the company contributed several ambitious architectural projects to the cityscape.

Through these contributions, Kodak left an indelible mark upon the city, from it’s turn of the century beginnings on Colborne Street, to the extensive complex in Mount Dennis, the traces of the Canadian branch of Kodak in Toronto are still visible today.

This history was constructed from documents and artefacts contained within the Kodak Corporate Archives and Heritage Collection at Ryerson University (Accession #2005.001).








In the Special Collections Display Case

The Changing Campus – 66 years of building Ryerson

Winter 2015

The Changing Campus



Ryerson’s campus is a work in progress. Since the school’s inception in 1948, it has been slowly increasing its footprint in the downtown core through acquisition, demolition, renovation, and original construction. View photographs, an architectural model, and memorabilia documenting the construction of 6 of the buildings that make up Ryerson University today.





In the Archives

#WIRED: A Digital History of Ryerson University

January – March 2013

Exhibit 007Ryerson University began as a polytechnic institute devoted to the training of students in applied technology. This technical history has informed Ryerson’s identity and culture, playing a significant role in the way the University defines its relationship to the digital age.

Bringing together diverse technological artifacts and historical materials from the Ryerson Archives, #WIRED is an exhibition that highlights pivotal moments in the digital evolution of Ryerson University.



In Special Collections

Photojournalism: Tools of the trade

October 2012 – January 2013

Photojournalism: Tools of the Trade



In recognition of the grand openig of the Ryerson Image Centre, Special Collections has put together a small exhibition featuring images of journalists from the Black Star collection with their cameras of choice and a selection of similar cameras from the Historical Camera Collection in Special Collections.





 Early Cameras from the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection

February 21 – April 2, 2012

From the camera obscura to the box brownie, the artifacts on display showcase the history of camera design in the 19th century. Recently acquired from Wilfrid Laurier University, this is merely a fraction of the nearly 500 cameras donated.


A Model Practice : Photographs from the Canadian Architect magazine archive

January 4th – February 13th, 2012

Photographs of models taken for Canadian Architect magazine are 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. Here the idea of architecture is on display – judge for yourselves whether the real lives up to the imagined.

Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada

The library is fortunate to host a traveling display of award-winning Canadian publications recognized by the Alcuin Society, a non-profit organization devoted to all aspects of books and reading. In order to promote an appreciation of fine books, the Society offers prestigious awards to Canadian book designers in several categories, all of which can be found in the display cases on the 2nd and 4th floors of the library.

Among the titles on display are: Children’s book winner The Little Hummingbird by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, designed by Jessica Sullivan and Naomi MacDougall and published by Greystone books; 1st prize Prose category winner I am a Japanese Writer by Dany Laferrière, designed by Peter Cocking and published by Douglas & McIntyre, and 1st prize Reference category winner The Conservation, Restoration, and Repair of Stringed Instruments and their Bows edited by Tom Wilder, designed by Emmelyne Pronillos and Laurie Castilloux-Bouchard, published by IPCI-Canada.

For a complete list of the award winners, please visit the Alcuin Society website.


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

June 28 – August 15, 2011

The dresses from the Fashion Research Collection each use an unexpected fabric to achieve a distinct look for each decade, whether it is the plasticized cloth of a shiny-copper 60s mini-dress, a 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.


Cameras from the Kodak Canada Collection

June 28 – August 15, 2011

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 still and motion picture cameras from the past.



Flora & Flutterbyes: Nature as inspiration and decoration

April 21 – June 27, 2011

The butterfly specimens on display 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.


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

March 10 – April 17, 2011

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.

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

February 22 – March 7, 2011

The School of Interior Design is pleased to present an exhibit of student work that explores civic engagement, food security, design activism and experiential learning. Students 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.



Family Ties

February 2 – 22, 2011 (Shortened exhibit to make space for faculty-produced exhibition of student work, “What’s on the Table: The Designer’s Response.”)

Words we use to express relationships change over time. Take the word “family”. Its meaning in the 21st century is very broad, referring just as often to single parent arrangements, step-parents and divorced parents, same-sex parents, cohabitating couples or independent children. Sometimes we think of our colleagues as forming our ‘work family’ or we call treasured family friends “aunt” or “uncle” when no blood relation exists. This is different from the early 20th century idea of a “nuclear family”, which referred only to two generations of the family living under one roof – two parents and child(ren). Around the 15th century, when the word first appeared in its Latin form familia, it referred only to the servants of a household (literally your “work family”!) This gradually broadened to mean the whole household, and eventually we see the emergence in the 17th century of the word “family” used to describe a group of related people, living inside or outside of the family home. How will “family” be defined in the future? Only time will tell, but it will probably be different..


“FACES” took the place of our annual Holiday Photo Contest this year from December 1, 2010 – January 31, 2011. Participants were asked to  play a guessing game with the famous faces on display, with a bonus  prize awarded for guessing which Librarian posed for our poster (the  answer is in our blog, if you’re curious). Names and faces were  revealed on January 23rd with prizes awarded. Thanks to all those who  played the game with us this holiday season!




Edwardian Fashion

This exhibition focused on fashions from the 1910s and ran from October 20 – December 1, 2010. It celebrated the rich resource of historical costume in the Ryerson University Fashion Research Collection, which holds a wide variety of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing from the 19th and 20th centuries. “Edwardian Fashion” focused on a period in fashion where elegant, floor-length gowns with corsets were still de rigueur for women’s day-wear, but the silhouette had slimmed down considerably from the puffed sleeves and bustles of 1905. We had to shorten the mannequin considerably to fit the collection’s black lace evening gown into the 4′ high display cases, but the photographs borrowed from the Special Collections Historical Photograph collection helped to illustrate how this type of gown was worn by women of the time.


Chemical Photography

From September 1 – October 19, 2010, Special Collections invited you over to the dark side …(of photography). We took you on a chemical tour of the darkroom, from the earliest days of photography, when image-making was a messy and sometimes dangerous business involving compounds of cyanide, mercury, lead, potassium and other toxic or flammable elements, to the Kodak years, when amateurs dropped their neat little rolls of film in the mail and let a professional do their dirty work. Not all photographers were content to let someone else develop their prints, but thankfully by the 20th century darkroom chemistry had standardized to the point where pre-mixed chemicals were readily available – along with health and safety manuals. On display were the artifacts of photography’s dangerous years in the darkroom.

A History of Chemical Photography YouTube Video (4:55 minutes)