Oakville Museum Exhibitions and Collections

The beautiful historic home and gardens of the Erchless Estate were once the home of our town’s founding family, but are now the setting for Oakville’s Community Museum. You can also visit our new satellite exhibition gallery at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre. General admission at both locations during public hours is free!

The museum holds a diverse collection of objects reflecting the history of Oakville from its establishment to the present day including costumes and textiles, fine and decorative arts, ethnological artifacts and Chisholm family-related materials. Artifacts that are not currently part of our permanent or temporary exhibits are carefully stored to ensure their preservation. For information on donating artifacts to the collection, please visit the support page. 


What about Water? Oakville’s H20 & History

June 21, 2013 to May 3, 2015 at Erchless Estate

What About Water exhibitWater is life – and life in Oakville has always been tied to water. Discover the influence water had on Oakville’s beginnings, its settlement, its growth and how Oakville’s existence remains dependent on water! This exhibit sponsored by Pets Plus Us.

Exhibit Sponsor

Link to Pets Plus Us website

Colour Coded

May 12, 2014 to March 1, 2015 at QEPCCC, 2302 Bridge Rd

Colour Coded exhibitYour local museum holds and shares the treasures identifying our community’s past! Colour-Coded offers a kaleidoscopic look into the Oakville Museum’s rich and diverse permanent collection ranging from paintings to sculpture, costume to decorative arts. The objects on display offer colourful insight into Oakville’s unique character and culture.

For many of us, our mental image of the past is monochromatic, based on black and white photos or old movies. But it comes to life in vivid colour when we consider the artifacts of the past. Clothing, china, carpets, jewellery, and other everyday objects in a glorious riot of rainbow colours show us how wrong it is to believe that our ancestors lived drab, colourless lives.

Covering the seven colours of the spectrum; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet; this exhibit showcases the Oakville Museum’s vast array of colourful artifacts. Brilliant blues, rich reds, gorgeous greens, youthful yellows, vibrant violets, intense indigos and optimistic.

Many Shades of Black

December 1, 2014 to March 1, 2015 at Erchless Estate

Many Shades of Black exhibit photoThis costume exhibition follows the black dress from its origins as mourning wear to becoming the party colour of choice. Many rarely seen black dresses from the Oakville Museum’s extensive costume collection chart the course of this essential fashion item.

Unlike other colours that are in fashion for a season, black is timeless. Black is the colour of the moment - today as it was centuries ago. Black will always be the cornerstone of the closet.

Freedom, Opportunity and Family: Oakville’s Black History

Permanent Exhibit at Erchless Estate

Oakville's Black History exhibit photoArtifacts, pictures, text and a documentary video tell the stories of many of the African-American families who settled in Oakville and were important to the development of our community. Visitors will discover the story of Branson Johnson, a freeborn African-American, who arrived in Oakville with his family in 1855. His Certificate of Freedom from a Maryland court and the pocket watch in which it was hidden for many years are featured. Passed down from one generation to the next, the certificate shows how subsequent generations defined and preserved evidence of freedom.

The Underground Railroad: Next Stop Freedom

Permanent Exhibit at Erchless Estate

Underground Railroad exhibit photoIn this exciting and moving multi-media presentation, the ghost of Deborah Brown tells the true story of her heroic flight from a life of slavery in Maryland to her new life of freedom in 19th-century Toronto.

The exhibit was created by Parks Canada in partnership with the Ontario Black History Society and the Royal Ontario Museum (Presentation available in French and English).

Upcoming Exhibitions

Building Oakville: Historic Residential Architecture
Opens May 25, 2015 at Erchless Estate

The homes within our community tell a rich story of Oakville’s past. Oakville’s historic neighbourhoods offer meaning and understanding to the local area and its inhabitants. This exhibit is intended to help residents and visitors understand and appreciate the art and science behind the architecture of Oakville’s neighbourhoods.

Art of the Hat
Opens April 2015 at QEPCCC

Hats can be such simple constructions or incredible works of sculpture. Hats from the Speir’s collection and the Museum’s permanent collection showcase the beauty, workmanship and history of millinery as both a craft and form of expression. This exhibit offers an exciting view into the fashionable lives of Ontario women in the twentieth century.

Past Exhibitions

For more information about previous listings, visit our past exhibition page.

Community Outreach Presentations

Throughout the year, museum staff present a series of mini exhibits coupled with conversational-style presentations to seniors’ residences in our community. Various themes are covered including oddities in the museum’s collections, an overview of Oakville’s history, vintage quilts and cocktail party gowns. If you are interested in booking an outreach exhibit at your facility, please call 905-338-4400 or email carolyn.cross@oakville.ca.

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