Niagara Falls Museums launch exhibition to kick off National Indigenous History Month

Niagara Falls, ON, May 31, 2020 – The Niagara Falls Museums teamed up with Landscape of Nations 360° to create an exciting new virtual exhibition that explores the Museums’ collections of Indigenous artefacts as curated through the perspective of Indigenous curators and their allies.

Entitled, Empathic Traditions: Niagara's Indigenous Legacy, the exhibition features objects selected from the Indigenous collections of the Niagara Falls History Museum that reveal the presence of Indigenous peoples, their art and history in the region, extending back hundreds of generations up to the present day. Vivid imagery of the artifacts combined with interpretive information help us understand what life was like for those who first arrived.

Within the Indigenous collections of Niagara Falls History Museum is found evidence dating back to the earliest human inhabitation of the region. From the Paleoindian Period reaching back 13,000 years, through the Archaic and Woodland Periods, to European contact and modern times, Indigenous peoples have always been an essential part of Niagara. The team at LON 360° examined this collection and developed a thrilling new exhibition that highlights the Indigenous footprint in Niagara's history.

"Developing an exhibit based upon the Indigenous history of this region has long been an aspiration of Museum leadership," said Clark Bernat, Culture and Museums Manager for the City of Niagara Falls. "We are therefore delighted that, with the assistance of the LON 360° team, we've been able to produce this high-quality online educational resource for the benefit of Niagara's K-12 schools and the general public."

By examining projectile points, stone tools, pottery shards, jewelry, and other ancient creations, as well as historic and contemporary items, the exhibition reveals the cultural connections Indigenous peoples developed with nature and, subsequently, through their relations with Europeans. Visitors will learn how the necessity of survival required the design of useful tools, how function influenced form, and how form created objects of great beauty. If nature is aesthetically pleasing and inspirational then Niagara Falls must be considered a muse of epic proportion. From the first human encounter with the mighty cataracts, artful interpretation ensued.


"Crucial to our curatorial approach was to highlight and share how Indigenous peoples have engaged with and interpreted the environment of the Niagara Region," said Tim Johnson, LON 360° project director. "When we reference Empathic Traditions, we're talking about the repetitive gratitude that is expressed through Indigenous teachings that are intended to stimulate empathic responses that nourish both emotional and intellectual development."

Expressed within the exhibit, these considerations provide insights into cultural value systems that reinforce acknowledgement and reciprocity to promote environmental stewardship, conservation, and ecological restoration; all important considerations for sustaining stewardship of the region's natural features.

The exhibition includes more than 60 objects curated by some of the most knowledgeable experts on Indigenous culture, history, and archaeology in Southern Ontario, brought to life through the spectacular photography of award-winning photographer Mark Zelinski. The addition of video segments featuring Indigenous Curator Rick Hill, Archaeology Curator Rob MacDonald, Community Curator Dave Labbe, and Indigenous Arts Advisor Jolene Rickard will be added later in the year when the pandemic quarantine is lifted, and filming can resume.

The Niagara Falls History Museum will host this exhibition on its website. Explore EmpathicTraditions.ca starting May 31, 2020.

For more information, contact:
Clark Bernat
City of Niagara Falls Culture & Museum Manager
Phone: 905-358-5082
Email: [email protected] 

Posted on: 5/31/2020 4:14 PM - Category: Media Releases