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

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 will help residents and visitors understand and appreciate the art and science behind the architecture of Oakville’s neighbourhoods.

Colour Coded

March 27 to August 30, 2014 at Erchless Estate

This exhibit 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.

Art of the Hat

Opens April 2015 at QEPCCC (museum space)

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.

Crème de la crème

June 8 to August 30, 2015 at QEPCCC (main gallery)

Here come the brides! Drawing from the Oakville Museum's extensive costume collection, this exhibition will explore centuries of fashion trends as each gown ultimately reflects the period in which it was worn.

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.