Browse Exhibits (15 total)

A World of Fancies : The Toy Theatre and the Living Image


The eternal desire to see stories come to life has led to great creativity throughout history. An increase in theatre-going and interest in theatrical souvenirs during the Regency period sparked the beginning of the toy theatre, a creative hobby that saw young people colouring and cutting out printed sheets of characters from popular plays, and performing on miniature theatres for family and friends at home.

This genre forms part of a continuum of printed works and optical toys that try to bring stories to life, drawing places and characters off the stage and off the page and creating a fanciful world of colour and motion.

This exhibition was curated by Elizabeth Ridolfo and on display at the Fisher Library from 5 September to 20 December 2023

Emerging Patterns: Data Visualization Through History

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It is common to regard the science and art of data visualization as distinctively modern, as if bar graphs, line charts, pie charts, colour-coded maps, timelines, and infographics are recent creations. This exhbition invites visitors to revise this view by engaging with early data visualizations and their creators. It explores some of the history of data visualization and uncovers how people much like us, from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, have been wrestling with the graphical representation of information for centuries. Fisher’s collection houses extraordinary, and beautiful examples from the  history of data visualization, including many historically significant first examples, false starts, curiosities, and instructive errors. The collection includes uniquely Canadian items, as well as examples created by individuals from historically excluded groups, many of whom exerted significant influence on the development of data visualization.

A modern audience can glean important lessons from considering the evolution of data visualizations, the role of new technology, and the way these historic visualizations were used—and abused—to inform and persuade.

The exhibition was curated by Aurora Mendelsohn, Anthony Gray and Kelly Shultz and ran from May 23-August 18, 2023.

This online version was created by Aurora Mendelsohn and Anthony Gray.

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The Wonderful World of Psychical Research


In the materialistic and commodity-driven Victorian world emerged the popular phenomenon of speaking to spirits through innovative devices. These objects of wonder attempt to bridge the gap between the known and the unknown, the normal and the paranormal, the physical and the psychical. The books in the Fisher Library's Psychical Research collection demonstrate some of the materials and methods the Victorians used to try and document, communicate with, and ultimately fail to prove the existence of the spirit world. However, their fantastical books and devices ended up being hidden predecessors to both legitimate scientific and technological advancements, and the pop culture phenomenon of paranormal research.

Celebrating Black Voices: Black History Resources at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

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Celebrating Black Voices is an exhibition that acknowledges and honours the social, cultural, and literary achievements of Black authors and artists in a wide variety of fields—poets, novelists, journalists, playwrights, musicians, memoirists, and many more. Special emphasis is given to the contribution of Black Canadians, though the exhibition includes works produced by Black writers over a period of hundreds of years and across the globe, from Canada in the 21st century to Ethiopia in the 14th.

The Discovery of Insulin at the University of Toronto


In the summer of 1921, the life-saving hormone insulin was first isolated at the University of Toronto. In celebration of the centennial anniversary of the discovery, the Fisher Library has mounted a new online exhibit with highlights from the Library's collection of original documents from the history of insulin research at UofT -- including the personal papers of Sir Frederick Grant Banting, Charles H. Best, James Bertram Collip, and J. R. R. Macleod. It also features an important 1996 essay by historian Michael Bliss, OC, FRSC (1941-2017) republished here for the first time.

Spirits of Christmas Past: Yuletide in Print


This exhibition, Spirits of Christmas Past: Yuletide in Print,  looks at the way people have told the story of Bethlehem over the centuries, but also the tales, poems, and carols we have come to treasure in Western society as the old year dies and a new one is born. It also looks at the ways in which books and manuscripts have preserved our traditions, with a particular nod to the role food and winter pastimes play in the holidays.

This virtual exhibition drawing on the extensive holdings of the Fisher Rare Book Library was curated in November 2020 by Pearce Carefoote. 

Doing Our Bit: Personal Narratives from the First World War


This exhibition focuses on the diverse and personal experience of the Great War (1914-1918) through selected items, many acquired in the past ten years, from the collections of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

This virtual exhibition was curated by Danielle Van Wagner to commemorate Remembrance Day 2020.

‘So long lives this’: A Celebration of Shakespeare’s Life and Works, 1616-2016


The Fisher Library’s exhibition, ‘So Long Lives this’: A Celebration of Shakespeare’s Life and Work, 1616–2016, explores Shakespeare's texts from the monumentally important First Folio of 1623 and the other three seventeenth-century folios, to the hundreds of editions over the next four centuries, through contributions by four scholars.

This virtual exhibition mirrors the exhibition that was on display at the Fisher Library from January 25 to May 28 2016, which corresponded with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.

Humane Letters : Bruce Rogers Designer of Books and Artist


For this exhibition on legendary American book designer Bruce Rogers, the title "Humane Letters" is a succinct description of his career. BR,as he was called by most who knew him, attempted to design and produce books that were not only readable but works of craft and art: a congruence of paper, type, ink, and binding pleasing to handle and behold. That he succeeded magnificently in this endeavour is readily apparent in this exhibition.

This exhibition provides highlights from the exhibition held at The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, 24 September to 21 December 2007.

Science Literacy Week 2020: Highlights from the History of Science


'Highlights from the History of Science' showcases material from the Fisher Library's large and comprehensive collections in the history of science. 

This virtual exhibition was curated by Alexandra Carter for Science Literacy Week 2020.

Nihil Obstat: an Exhibition of Banned, Censored & Challenged Books in the West, 1491-2005


This exhibition of banned, censored, and challenged books places censorship in the West within the historical context of the last five hundred years.

This exhibition provides highlights from the exhibition held at The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, January 24 to April 29, 2005. 

Struggle and story: Canada in Print

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This exhibition, Struggle and Story: Canada in Print, explores the history of Canada through works in print. This exhibition draws from the holdings of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library as well as material from the University of Toronto Archives and represents more than 120 years of collecting. 

This virtual exhibition mirrors the exhibition that was on display at the Fisher Library from March to September 2017, which correspond with the 150th anniversary of confederation. 

How Does My Garden Grow: The Education of a Gardener


Drawing on the rich printed and manuscript resources of the Fisher Library, this exhibition approaches horticultural history from the particular viewpoint of how people learn to cultivate plants – both historically and as individual gardeners today.

This  virtual exhibition mirrors the exhibition curated by Anne Dondertman that was displayed at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library from 30 April- 14 September 2012.

Flickering of the Flame: Print and the Reformation


This exhibition, Flickering of the Flame: Print and the Reformation, explores the evolution of the Reformation and its propogation in text and the arts. The exhibition draws from the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library's outstanding collection of early theological and religious works, as well as loans from private collections and other institutions, with works dating primarily between 1517 and 1648.

This virtual exhibition mirrors the exhibition that was on display at the Fisher Library from September to December 2017, which corresponded with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Strength in Numbers: The CanLit Community


This exhibition, Strength in Numbers: The CanLit Community, draws largely on the library’s rich literary archives to explore how Canadian literature has been shaped not just by the writers but an entire community, including editors, illustrators, agents and booksellers. Some of the highlights include: pages from the first handwritten draft of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale; letters from Lucy Maud Montgomery and Stephen Leacock; self-published works by Al Purdy and Crad Kilodney; and corrected galley proofs from Robertson Davies' Fifth Business.

This virtual exhibition is based on the exhibition that ran at the Fisher Library from January to May 2020. It includes many of the highlights from that exhibition, but not all items from the original are represented here.