Living History

Looking for something different to do last Friday, my pal Jenn suggested we check out the new broadcasting exhibit at Museum London. At the time, we didn’t realize it was the second anniversary of the death of our then-patriarch at Free-FM, Richard Costley-White. Fitting that we had stood in front of his photo at the Museum and remembered what a good guy he was. 

my friend Jennifer and I do a selfie in front of the Museum London sign

The Air Waves exhibit isn’t what you’d call comprehensive but it’s interesting. For broadcasting students of today, it will seem quaint.

an 8-foot square collection of microphones and parts all standing on end

Microphones on display date back to far earlier than these in the mic graveyard. There are little nods to the London area’s broadcast history, including a few (not well labelled) opportunities to listen to actual shows from back in the day and memorabilia from legends who have become friends.

program advertising a radio show by Dick Williams who was nicknamed The Tall One

Jenn had some fun scrolling an old teleprompter and doing a newscast on camera, using actual copy from CFPL-TV’s first news broadcast in 1953. CTV London loaned an old camera and a newer one. It’s kind of like viewing a butter churn next to an iPhone.

There’s always something weird and wonderful on at Museum London, like their salute to noise. When we couldn’t get the teapots to “talk” I decided that doing the “I’m a Little Teapot” pose might work. Weirdly, it did. The lids popped up and they barked at us a bit.

I'm in the teapot position as the lids on two teapots on a table open wide

A giant pad on the wall emitted sound when you waved your arms. There’s an exhibit dedicated to light, too. It’s all very hands-on. And then we walked through a door and found ourselves in front of the awe-inspiring Witness Blanket.

large wooden wall with a door propped open

This 40-foot long structure, covered in found items from residential schools and friendship centres, is meant to bear witness to those affected by Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. It’s on a cross-Canada tour and here for three years. The door comes from the infirmary of St. Michael’s Residential School in Alert Bay. It symbolizes the fact that some 150,000 children couldn’t open a door and leave when they were forced into one of these schools. It’s powerful. It tells the truth of the atrocities done to so many lives.

Admittance to Museum London is by donation. It’s one of the best bargains in the city. The Air Waves exhibit is a little thin on content and story, but still tells enough of the history to show you what we’re losing in the Forest City when TV and radio stations go off air or slash their programming. This exhibit is on until September 17.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *