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 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.


Designing Oakville: Historic Residential ArchitectureDesigning Oakville: Historic Residential Architecture

May 26, 2015 to May 1, 2016 at Erchless Estate

The homes within our community tell a rich story of Oakville’s past. The town's historic neighbourhoods offer meaning and understanding to the local area and its inhabitants. This exhibition will help residents and visitors understand and appreciate the art and science behind the architecture of Oakville’s neighbourhoods. While here, explore the beautiful buildings, grounds and gardens of Erchless and take in the magnificent view.


Crystal Clear exhibitCrystal Clear: Pieces from the Oakville Museum's Glass Collection

April 16, 2016 to February 5, 2017 in the museum space at QEPCCC (2302 Bridge Rd)

Glass is a material of everyday life. It has limitless applications whether poured, blown, pressed or moulded. We see through it and we see ourselves in it. Using the seven capital vices as facets of human fascinations, we will explore pieces from our glass collection. Note: This exhibit is located at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre, 2302 Bridge Road.


St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School

September 24, 2015 to June 2016 at Erchless Estate

This exhibition tells the story of a Toronto school opened in 1891 and an Oakville school opened in 1923 and the vision of commitment of their educational pioneers: Emily Ayckbowm or “mother Emily”, founder of the Community of the Sisters of the Church, and Ruth Lightbourn, an enlightened teacher who believed in the building of character as well as the training of minds.

Thousands of girls have walked the halls spanning the turn of two centuries, two World Wars, a women’s rights movement, a technological revolution that has taken education from ink wells, penmanship, British history and Latin composition to iPads, robotics, and a 21st century classroom.


 

Oakville's Black History exhibit photoFreedom, Opportunity and Family: Oakville’s Black History

Permanent Exhibit at Erchless Estate

Artifacts, 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.


Underground Railroad exhibit photoThe Underground Railroad: Next Stop Freedom

Permanent Exhibit at Erchless Estate

In 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

Art and Fashion

May 27, 2016 to June 18, 2017 at Erchless Estate

Through history, fashion design tracked and echoed trends in art. The developing aesthetics of artistic styles can be followed in the progression of fashion design. Discover how each garment on display has a particular relationship to the art of its time.

The Art of the Hat

June 25, 2016 to February 14, 2017 at Erchless Estate

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.

Travel: From Sedate to Supersonic

July 1 to September 4, 2016 in the main gallery at QEPCCC (2302 Bridge Rd)

Enjoy a mini-vacation with the Oakville Museum's eclectic collection of 20th century travel. Let our apparel, trunks, suitcases, photographs and memorabilia transport you. From the ocean to the air, experience the golden age of travel!


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.