Rarely Seen

Amherstburg Freedom Museum features “Rarely Seen” temporary exhibit



By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Freedom Museum is celebrating Black History Month with an exhibit of materials not usually seen as part of their regular tours.

“Recently Seen” features rare artifacts and recently acquired items and the stories behind them, noted museum curator Mary-Katherine Whelan. Whelan said like many museums, the Amherstburg Freedom Museum can display only a fraction of its collection.

“We’re inviting the public to view rarely seen artifacts from the collection,” she stated.

Amherstburg Freedom Museum curator Mary-Katherine Whelan stands with part of the “Rarely Seen” exhibit that is featured for Black History Month.

The temporary exhibit, located on the upper floor of the main museum building, displays paintings, photographs, scrapbooks and artifacts. A three-page petition from 1921 to Amherstburg town council regarding small pox and a Board of Health order advising a theatre to “exclude all coloured people”  is on exhibit as is an accompanying article from The Amherstburg Echo is also on hand. Manacles are also on exhibit, with those coming from the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

There are also signs from the southern United States pointing African Americans the direction of the washrooms they must use with the signage coming from the Jim Crow era.

Photographs of museum co-founder Mac Simpson are also part of the “Rarely Seen” exhibit.

“I wanted to include a variety of things people don’t usually get to see. Hopefully people come and connect with it in some way,” said Whelan.

The museum is welcoming school tours and adults will come out to view the temporary and permanent exhibits.

“There are so many pieces we have in our collection,” said Whelan. “It’s fun to bring them out and show the material we have in the collection.”

A sample of what is displayed as part of the temporary “Rarely Seen” exhibit is photographed here.

Admission to the Amherstburg Freedom Museum is $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors and students and $30 for a family of five. People can get $1 off admission this month if they can name the year the Nazrey AME Church was built (1848) and by whom (people escaping slavery in the U.S.).

The museum is located at 277 King St. and is open Tuesday-Friday from 12-5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m.

Whelan also invited the public to check out Black History Month events on their website, www.amherstburgfreedom.org. There is a Black History Month events calendar there that Whelan said can be downloaded. The calendar is run in conjunction with the Essex County Black Historical Research Society.

For more information, call 519-736-5433 or 1-800-713-6336.