Tuesday, April 20, 2010

  • Games collection goes to Ottawa museum
  • News under the shadow of the ash
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

Games collection goes to Ottawa museum

The museum that formerly stood in B. C. Matthews Hall will not be reopening, officials confirmed yesterday, and the university’s world-famous collection of games and related material is moving to a new home at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in the national capital.

The Museum and Archive of Games began in 1971 as a teaching aid developed by recreation and leisure studies professor Elliott Avedon. The collection and associated archives includes more than 5,000 objects and documents, many of them uniquely Canadian.  

[Holding crokinole board with white gloves]The exhibition space on the main floor of BMH has been closed for months, with work under way to renovate it for other uses, and a long-awaited announcement came yesterday: the university will transfer the Avedon Collection to the national museum to ensure its proper care and access for researchers. (Pictured: Madeline Avedon, Victor Rabinovitch and David Johnston with a crokinole board from the collection.)

“The Avedon Collection is a resource of national and historical significance,” said David Johnston, president of the university. “We are proud of its association with Waterloo and delighted to know that it will be properly protected and studied in Canada’s national museum of social and cultural history.”

University leaders and museum officials held a dinner last week to celebrate the transfer. Also attending were Ron Johnson, the faculty member who has supervised the collection since Avedon’s retirement from UW in 1995, and Madeline Avedon, a daughter of the founder.

“Games provide a wealth of information about a culture — such as the values and interests of a society, as well as the technology at their disposal. This collection is a treasure trove,” said Victor Rabinovitch, president and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “We thank the University of Waterloo for entrusting us with this resource, and we applaud the great work done by Professor Avedon and his colleagues who created this collection over many years.”

The collection of traditional and offbeat games began with Avedon’s own modest assortment of game pieces which he used in classroom demonstrations. As his daughter fondly remembers, Avedon’s game collecting became his passion, and the hunt for games became the focus of many family vacations in Canada and abroad. She recalls with amusement her father’s regular requests for “donations” of forgotten games from his kids’ own toy boxes, “whisked away the next day for the benefit of the collection and future generations.” 

The collection also received donated games from students and staff, and eventually from the general public in Canada and internationally. One year the Recreation Students Association donated the cost of the carved whale game from the Pacific Northwest that is still used as the collection’s website logo.

Today, it includes a wide array of card, board, dice and electronic games, plus information about games played in ancient times in the Americas and on other continents. The international and historical content makes the collection especially valuable to those studying cultural diffusion and human interaction throughout history. 

Avedon maintains a keen interest in games and in the unique collection that bears his name. “In the beginning,” he writes from his retirement home in Florida, “there was only myself and a co-op recreation student. Early on, with grants from the Province, two people with some archival experience worked for a time to establish a system of care for the collection and methods for maintaining information about each object in the collection. Later, with additional grants from the national and provincial governments and funds from UW, a number of personnel were hired as museum staff. This latter group formalized care of the collection, began the process of photographing and computerizing object information, and offered the public an ongoing series of exhibits and programs. When grant money dried up, museum personnel consisted only of UW students with some faculty supervision. By my calculation, from the beginning until closing, more than 100 UW undergraduate co-op students and over 30 graduate students have taken care of the collection.”

He continues to manage a “virtual museum” on the university’s web site, with photos and information about many hundreds of games.

In a message read at last week’s dinner, he noted that as a newcomer to Canada he had tried to make a contribution to this country, and feels that through the collection he may have succeeded. “Future generations of Canadians will have an opportunity to enjoy and learn from the collection,” he wrote, “and this is indeed a means of my saying thank you Canada!”

The Canadian Museum of Civilization is the centre for research and public information on the social and human history of the country. Located on the shores of the Ottawa River in Gatineau (Hull), Québec, the museum is Canada’s largest and most popular cultural institution, attracting more than 1.3 million visitors each year.

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This Site Is Under Construction: That's the title of an exhibition of work by Michael Capobianco that opens today in the university's East Campus Hall gallery. It runs until May 14 (the gallery is open Monday to Friday, 11:00 to 6:00) and a reception will be held on the closing day, a Friday, starting at 6:00. Capobianco is a Toronto-based multi-media artist. His current work, a gallery news release says, looks at "subjects which are spaces in flux — specific locales of construction and building sites that are in-between states of development — placing emphasis on the mechanized devices that fabricate the new structures."

News under the shadow of the ash

There was supposed to be a book launch event today for Polish Orphans of Tengeru, by Lynne Taylor of the UW history department, but it's not happening. The reason: Taylor, who has been in Poland speaking and giving interviews about the Polish version of her work, can't get home. She's among the thousands of people whose travels have been interrupted by a massive volcanic ash cloud over Europe. ("Watching the news like a hawk," she said in e-mail yesterday, "I have been wondering how many UW people have been stranded in Europe like me?") The book launch has been rescheduled for Wednesday, May 12, still at 5 p.m. and still at the University Club.

On this side of the Atlantic, three dozen people from the Knowledge Integration program are similarly anxious about their travel plans. "We call the first class of KI students 'the Amsterdam cohort'," says Linda Carson, undergraduate officer for the program, "and they've been pretty tense all weekend. After two years of anticipation and two months of planning, who could have anticipated that an Icelandic volcano might derail their signature field trip? Today, European air travel got moving again and my 34 students are packing their bags, hopeful that they'll get to mark the end of second year canalside in Amsterdam. Their goal is to study a variety of museums, preparation for a course designing, building and showing original working museum exhibits. I want everyone at UW thinking very restful thoughts about Eyjafjallajökull, please. We're due to depart Sunday after the end of exams."

The coffee shop on the first floor of the Modern Languages building has been pretty much in its present form since ML opened in 1962. (The photos on the walls — somebody was asking about them recently — date from 1989.) Well, it's time for a change, says Heather Kelly of food services, announcing that the department "is pleased to be renovating both the ML's Café and Tim Hortons outlet in Modern Languages. Tim Hortons closed Friday, April 9, for an exciting renovation and will reopen in September. ML's will close Friday, April 23, at 2:30, and reopen in September. We are taking advantage of this sorely needed renovation to provide a more up to date, bright and open concept servery. There will still be some of the old favourites on the menu, but customers can look for a much larger variety of food and choice, including a counter where customers can custom choose the topping on their salad, wrap, etc. The new design will also help to alleviate long and often confusing lineups."

Last week's e-waste collection on campus, followed by the public day on Saturday, added up to a seven-truckload mountain of used electronics, says Joel Norris of UW's central stores: "This was our second annual event, and the results this year surpassed last year's volumes. Central Stores and Greentec collected the equivalent of seven tractor trailers full of electronic waste. In total, 139 skids of product, weighing over 70,000 pounds, were piled and wrapped. Our on-campus collection this past week netted enough product to fill over two of these tractor trailers, enough volume to generate the space of approximately twenty offices. Even though the weather wasn't the greatest on Saturday, we had a great crew of Central Stores employees who put in a full day of emptying car trunks, pickup trucks, utility trailers and even U-hauls, while still making it a fun, team spirited day. The vehicles kept arriving non-stop from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and the assistance of UW Parking helped to directed traffic efficiently to the drop off site. The overwhelming support of the UW community and the general public were greatly appreciated. This support helped to make our team's green initiatives a reality. Everyone is anticipating an even bigger event in 2011."


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Link of the day


When and where

Winter term examinations through April 23. Schedule.

Extended library hours through April 23: Davis Centre library open 24 hours a day, except Sunday 2 to 8 a.m.; Dana Porter Library open 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Details.

Waterloo Centre for the Advancement of Cooperative Education seminar: Judene Pretti, WatPD program, 12:30, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Luv Lulu, Hate Cancer sale of used workout wear, to benefit Canadian Cancer Society, 2:00 to 8:00, TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Biochemistry and molecular biology seminar: John F. Dawson, University of Guelph, “Producing Polymerization-Deficient F-Actin to Understand Its Functions” 3:30, Chemistry II room 361.

Architecture students’ annual project review, opening reception 6:30 p.m., exhibit continues to May 29, Design at Riverside gallery, Architecture building, Cambridge.

Live and Learn Lecture: Geoff Fong, psychology, “How UW Is Working Towards a Smoke-Free Society” 7:00, Waterloo Public Library main branch.

PostSecret.com founder Frank Warren speaks about his site and signs copies of his books, 7:00, Humanities Theatre, sponsored by Arts Student Union, tickets $35 at Humanities box office.

Discovery Days in Health Sciences event for high schoolers, Wednesday. Details.

Workshop for postdoctoral fellows: “How to Apply Successfully for Academic Positions” Wednesday 12:00, to register e-mail marta@ uwaterloo.ca.

‘Demystifying Investor Relations’ workshop by Greg Secord of Open Text, sponsored by International Association of Business Communicators, Wednesday 4:00, TechTown Café, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Star Gazing Party organized by department of physics and astronomy, Wednesday 7 p.m., north campus.

Spiritual Heritage Education Network presents Peter van Driel, “The Unifying Teachings of Baha’u’llah” Wednesday 7:30 p.m., CEIT room 1015.

Centre for Family Business, based at Conrad Grebel UC, breakfast seminar: “Sibling Relationships and Family Business” Friday, 7 a.m., Bingemans Conference Centre.

Annual used book sale sponsored by Canadian Federation of University Women, proceeds to scholarship funds, Friday (9 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and Saturday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.), First United Church, King and William Streets. Details.

Bill Oldfield, library, retirement coffee break Friday 10:00, Dana Porter Library staff lounge, RSVP ajdandyk@ uwaterloo.ca.

Earth Day Eco-Showcase co-sponsored by UW faculty of environment, Saturday 1:00 to 5:00, Kitchener city hall. Details.

Campus-wide utility shutdown Saturday 4 p.m. to Sunday 8 p.m.: all main campus buildings, no heat or hot water; buildings in north and east areas, including Villages, SLC, Optometry, Davis, DWE and  CPH, also no electrical power.

Fee payment deadline for spring term is April 26 (promissory note) or April 29 (bank transfer). Details.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield speaks on “Working and Living in Space”, as keynote for the Graduate Student Research Conference, April 27, 5:00, Humanities Theatre. Details.

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