Explore the ongoing exhibitions in our Permanent Exhibits Gallery to learn about the history of First Nations peoples in Ontario from 13,000 years ago to current times. Archaeological finds from the various time periods give clues to life in the past.
Explore what life would have been like 13 000 years ago in Southwestern Ontario. Take the journey from the end of the Ice Age all the way through to contact with the European settlers.
MOA’s main gallery explores the time periods from the arrival of the first people in Southwestern Ontario to the first contact with the Europeans. Southwestern Ontario: 13 000 years in the Making looks at how people lived in, and adapted to, environmental and socio-cultural changes. By exploring the archaeological artifacts left behind, we see how in First Nations technology and lifestyle changed through time.
Roots of a Nation
“Everything on earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission…”
Roots of a Nation explores the origins of First Nations culture and chronicles how their lifestyle has thrived and evolved over the past 1000 years. Learn about different properties of traditional herbs and plants used by the First Nations and discover clothing, basketry, and other items associated with daily life.
Cabinets of Curiosity
Cabinets of Curiosities originated in the sixteenth century when private collections were becoming increasingly popular among the nobility. People have been collecting items for as long as they have had places to store these items, but the Cabinets of Curiosities were different – they were an attempt at understanding and displaying the universe in the time before the rise of science, but after religion had ceased to provide satisfactory answers about the universe.
As time progressed more and more people began collecting, and eventually the public were allowed access to these collections. When these private collections were made public, they became some of the earliest museums.
Onʌyota’a·ká· ukwehuwehnékha’ khále’/ Miinwaa Anishinaabemowin
Oneida and Anishinaabe/Ojibwe Language Exhibit
The Creator gifted each human being with a voice and language to use. Indigenous languages are verb-based rather than noun-based. They tend to describe people, places, and things instead of labelling them. Within southern Ontario, Indigenous languages are no longer peoples’ mother tongue. However, more Indigenous people are revitalizing and preserving their languages. Indigenous languages carry a peoples’ culture and whole philosophy in life. This is why it is so crucial to keep Indigenous languages alive. Many Indigenous people have lost some of their ways and traditions, so the best approach to retaining knowledge and tradition is to relearn their language.
The Indigenous languages featured in this exhibition are Onʌyota’a·ká· (Oneida) from the Iroquois family and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) from the Algonquin family.
“Wilfrid Jury’s legacy continues to bring knowledge and understanding that stems from his own passion to teach and disseminate knowledge of earlier people to the public and especially young people.”
Wilfrid Jury, son of Amos Jury, was a passionate archaeologist who pioneered the understanding of many archaeological settlements across Ontario. The original collections at MOA are the result of Jury’s excavations and donations. The museum also houses his original scholarly articles, personal sketches, family photographs, and personal journals.
Wilfrid Jury left behind an impressive legacy. He introduced archaeology as a discipline to the University of Western Ontario, teaching classes on archaeology and founding a field school to allow students to gain hands on experience. He set the standard for archaeology in Ontario and his hope for the museum was to preserve objects of the past for future generations, and MOA continues his legacy to this day.
Situated beside the museum on a flat plateau overlooking the Medway River and Snake Creek is the 500 year old Neutral Iroquois Village site. This site was believed to have housed upwards of 2000 people at the height of its occupancy. To learn more information about the history of the site, visit this link here or come to the museum to experience the archaeological site first hand, including select excavated material featured in the main gallery.
Archaeology is not just for archaeologists. Discover and learn about the archaeological process and how artifacts make it from the ground to the museum.
Archaeology benefits everyone, and the process of finding and preserving artifacts is just as important as the information we learn from them. The Public Archaeology Lab is located in MOA’s main gallery and it is open for all visitors to explore. It is an active work space used by volunteers and curatorial staff for the ongoing re-boxing project that transfers the museum’s archaeological collection into archival grade boxes for storage.
If you are lucky enough to visit when the lab is in use, please engage with the curatorial staff and volunteers to experience archaeology in a unique way.