Nelson Mandela photo and museum exhibition to open in Toronto

By Stephen Weir

Mandela 11/17/01 Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel receive their honary doctorates at Ryerson University .  Toronto Star

Two important exhibitions about the life and times of Nelson Mandela are set to be on display in Toronto this fall.  A free Mandela photo exhibit opens next Wednesday downtown at Brookfield Place and on October 10th, while a full-scale exhibition will open in North Toronto at the Meridian Art Centre (formerly the Toronto Centre for the Arts).

Clyde Wagner, the president and CEO of TO Live told the Caribbean Camera, that given what is happening in the world today, Nelson Mandela’s life story must not be forgotten.  “The time is right for this photo exhibit!”

Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela. Photo taken by Colin McConnell/Toronto Star, June 18, 1990.

Mandela: Through the Eyes of the City will be on display for almost a month at Brookfield Place in the Allen Lambert Galleria, 181 Bay Street.  The free photography show has exclusive images from the Toronto Star’s photography archives including pictures of The Star’s front-page coverage of Mandela’s visits to Toronto in 1990, 1998 and 2001.

Mandela is one of only five people to be made honourary Canadian citizens. He travelled to Canada just a few months after his release from prison to thank Canadians for their continued support.

Well-known Toronto Star photographers including Ken Faught, Colin McConnell, Rick Eglinton, Tony Bock, Steve Russell and the late Boris Spremo took the photographs. The Star is sponsoring Mandela: Through the Eyes of the City, which runs from September 9th to 27th.

“This is really a tease for what is going to happen in October, when we open a multi-media exhibition simply called MANDELA,” continued Wagner. “We are bringing this critically important exhibition to Toronto.  It is Joyful! Full of Hope and Equality. It is a celebration of Diversity”

MANDELA is a major exhibition developed by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.  The Manitoba museum created this multi-media exhibition in collaboration with the South Africa’s Apartheid Museum. It is currently on display in Winnipeg. It opens in Toronto on October 10th and runs till January 5th 2020.

Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel in the SkyDome. Photo taken by Ken Faught/Toronto Star Sept. 25, 1998.


The exhibition is described as being a “rich sensory experience of imagery, soundscape, digital media and objects, MANDELA explores Nelson Mandela’s fight for justice and human dignity in South Africa. At Robben Island Prison, a former leper colony and animal-quarantine station off Cape Town, Nelson Mandela – Prisoner 466/64 – was kept by South Africa’s white-supremacist regime for eighteen years.”

According to Clyde Wagner original artefacts in the show include a battered ballot box used in the country’s first democratic elections in 1994 when Mandela became president, There is a letter in Mandela’s own hand, sent from prison to a union leader involved in anti-apartheid mobilization and a notepad Mandela used during negotiations for democracy. There is also a message Mandela wrote to the Canadian Senate during a visit shortly after his release from prison in 1990.

“To me the most critical part of the exhibition is a life sized replica of Mandela’s eight-foot by seven-foot prison cell.  It is enlightening to see it and think about Mandela and his 10,000 days of incarceration.”

MANDELA, the exhibition will be installed at the Gallery at the Meridian Arts Centre 5040 Yonge Street, originally home to MOCCA (Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art). There is a $10 admission charge.



Cutline: Mandela Moments: In happier times with first wife Winnie; in robes at Ryerson University to receive an honorary doctorate; walking among the youth at the Skydome.