Cabinets of Curiosity: Sixty Years of Collecting

By Melissa Cole, Curator

Since 1957 our collection has grown in ways that may surprise the average visitor.  With more than 50 000 objects and archival records, our collection is vast and unsurpassed in its diversity and size in the City.  Celebrating our first 60 years, the OM will feature objects with the richest stories to tell, from our 1837 Rebellion Box to our largest artefacts, the historic homes.

As a homage to our own history, we are presenting this exhibition as an interpretation of the cabinet of curiosity.  Given our curious natures and innate desire to collect, it is no wonder that the modern museum has its roots planted in the privately owned collections of extraordinary objects from the past.  These collections, called cabinets of curiosity, first became popular in the Renaissance and reached their peak of popularity in the Victorian Era.  Amateur and professional scientists kept their most prize specimens hidden away, until the elite members of society began to seek them out and placed in ornate display cases for all to see.  Some of these collections filled entire rooms.

Inside Celebrating 60

Our exhibition, Celebrating 60: Sixty Years of Collecting features rarely seen, a few odd and curious objects drawn from the Oshawa Museum’s collection.  Deciding which artefacts to display was not an easy task, with assistance from museum staff members who shared their favourite artefacts and we asked Oshawa Historical Society members to assist us in choosing a quilt to display in the exhibition.  Visitors will have the unique opportunity to peruse various objects and documents of curiosity and wonder, up close and in a personal way.

This exhibition is dedicated to the OM’s past Curators, not only for the artefacts they helped to collect but for the stories and material culture they helped to preserve for future generations.

Join us at the Oshawa Museum in celebrating our first 60 years.

Logo for OMA copy

Membership Mondays – You Belong in the Oshawa Historical Society

Did you know the best way to experience the Oshawa Museum is with a membership? The Oshawa Museum is managed by the Oshawa Historical Society, a valued part of our community since 1957.

Oshawa Historical Society brings together those who are interested in Oshawa’s diverse and rich history, and this history is brought to life through our exciting exhibits and year-round events!

There are several membership levels for the Society, so you can pick the option that’s best for you, and membership benefits include:

  • FREE year-round admission to the museum (bring up to two guests at any visit!);
  • FREE admission to our special tours and events, including cemetery tours, walking tours, and Lamplight;
  • FREE admission to monthly Speaker Series meetings featuring guest speakers, and more;
  • DISCOUNTS on Victorian Tea bookings, children’s programs, bus tours, and more;
  • Quarterly newsletter Historical Happenings;
  • Monthly email bulletin, keeping you up-to-date with the museum happenings; and,
  • Invitation to special “Member’s Only” events & exhibit previews.

Every Monday during the month of February is Membership Mondays where we’ll share facts and info on the Oshawa Historical Society and why being a Member is the best way to experience the Oshawa Museum!

Information on becoming a member can be found on the Oshawa Historical Society’s website.

You Belong in the Oshawa Historical Society.