The object brings together intellect and emotion. It becomes a companion to life experience and brings together thought and feeling.
Collections come into being in various ways, and for different reasons. Yet the artefacts collected – either by an individual or an institution – are worth saving for one fundamental purpose: they help us understand our past and present as they connect us to ideas, people, and the community we live in.
In exhibitions, artefacts are considered in conversation, not isolation. They are brought out of storage, placed in different contexts, juxtaposed with other objects, and linked to themes and ideas.
In the photograph, a stained stone sits on a small shelf. Is this piece of limestone important? What does the dark layer of grime signify? Why should one care about this object? Without a narrative, does this piece really matter?
Photo: Stone fragment, c. 1920s, limestone with layer of grime, private collection. Exhibition view from Evocative Objects: Artefacts Unfolding Neighbourhoods, Bytown Museum, Ottawa. Photo: Graham Iddon © Bytown Museum, 2010.