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60 years of celebrating Oshawa’s history

Melissa Cole, the curator of the Oshawa Museum, says it proved impossible to choose just 60 items to highlight the museum’s 60th anniversary. Starting on May 24, the museum will be hosting an exhibit looking back at six decades of the museum and its collection. (Photo by Joel Wittnebel).

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

For 60 years, the Oshawa Museum has been collecting rich pieces of the city’s past, and now, a new exhibit is set to highlight the best of the best.

From cannonballs to coffin jewelry, the new exhibit will show off a wide array of the museum’s collection, which stretches into the thousands of items. According to Melissa Cole, the museum’s curator, the original plan was for the showcase to include 60 items – however, that proved impossible.

“We’ve tried to kind of grab from all areas of our collection,” Cole says. “These are highlights from our collection and most of the artifacts that you see on display have a unique story to tell.”

There’s the large collection of historic medical instruments, uniforms from the floor of General Motors, and the large portrait of one of the city’s first female entrepreneurs Harriet Cock. The exhibit will also showcase the museum’s Rebellion Boxes, carved by captured men in the Toronto Gaol during the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837.

And while narrowing the exhibit down to 60 items was difficult, Cole says her favourite of the group is the 25-piece collection of Smith potteries, up from the two pieces since Cole came on as curator in 2002.

Cole says she hopes the exhibit acts as a “snapshot” of the collecting that has been going on at the museum for 60 years. Marketed as a kind of “cabinet of curiosities,” visitors will have a chance to see items that may have never been on display before.

“Visitors will have a unique opportunity to discover various objects of curiosity and wonder, up close and in a personal way,” Cole says.

The exhibit will have its grand opening May 25 and will be open throughout the summer and fall, closing on Nov. 1. For more information, visit the museum at 1450 Simcoe St. S. or the museum’s website at