New Museum Exhibit Features 50 Years of U of G History

January 02, 2014 - News Release

Beekeeping, the Branion Plaza cannon and fake poop will all come together as part of an exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the University of Guelph.

The exhibit, organized by students in U of G’s Museum Project courses, will be on display at the Guelph Civic Museum from early January until the anniversary celebrations in June. On the exhibit’s opening day Jan. 4, Don O’Leary, vice-president (finance and administration), will host a University levee at 2 p.m. at the museum.

Guests may don a beekeeper’s outfit, check out the Gryph mascot and the “cannon,” and view the Sanders portrait, believed to be the only likeness of William Shakespeare painted from life. Also on display will be the “robo-gut,” a lab assembly by Prof. Emma Allen-Vercoe, Molecular and Cellular Biology, that makes synthetic feces for studying gut bacteria.

Touch screens will feature videos of other University research projects.

It has taken more than a year to put together the exhibit, said Sue Bennett, director, university and community relations, who teaches the museum project courses.

“We’ve had three courses, so different students were involved throughout. In the first course, they researched potential ideas. They interviewed people and designed the plan and model for the exhibits in the second course, and in the last course created the exhibits in studio,” she said.

“So we aren’t moving the cannon. The students created a replica, complete with painting it. They also built displays, including cases for some items, such as skeletons from the Ontario Veterinary College.”

The students, who are all in arts programs, learned about the University, said Bennett.

“They found out about our history in arts and also about our scientific achievements, such as our work with zoonotic diseases -- diseases that transfer from animals to people -- or with DNA barcoding. They also learned about the University’s work in international development. I think in some cases they were surprised at how much the University has done.”

Those lessons will be valuable in their careers, she said.

“They now know the process and all the jobs that go into creating an end product and about all aspects of arts administration. I liked seeing them understand how to make history come alive, bringing meaning to the University and showing what we have done in the past.”

The students made the exhibits in components for ease of transport among venues, so the displays can be reused, all while staying within budget. They spent extra hours outside of the classroom creating the materials.

Bennett hopes community members will visit the exhibit.

“Even if you never attended the University, U of G and the community have always been intrinsically engaged and connected with each other. We share common goals, including developing community, health and wellness, and the environment, and each have a focus on food. This exhibit will show how the University and the community have worked together to change the world.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or; or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982, or

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