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What to See

A listing of some of the decorative arts exhibits from coast to coast. This section is updated every few months - please check individual links for the latest exhibition news if needed.

Aga Kahn Museum, Toronto


Emperors & Jewels: Treasures of the Indian Courts                                                        August 18, 2018 - January 27, 2019

Discover the deep roots of contemporary fashion’s love affair with men’s jewelry and adornments in this display of exquisitely crafted jeweled artworks from Mughal India. Decorated with gems such as diamonds and carved from semi-precious stone like jade, the objects in this exhibition are drawn from Kuwait’s al-Sabah Collection, one of the foremost collections of Islamic arts in the world.


Alberta Craft Gallery, Calgary


Seated                                                      September 1, 2018 - December 24, 2018

Whether it’s a majestic throne or a humble stool, what we sit on has undergone a rigorous design process and is an expression of its creator. Aesthetics, scale, style, materials, and proportions are just a few of the considerations taken when creating traditional, contemporary, or re-imagined seating objects.

SEATED features a diverse range of work created by 16 Fine Craft artists from across Canada. From stools, chairs, and benches that are created by master woodworkers all the way to unexpected fold formed copper and enamel metal work, this exhibition explores the theme of seating objects in clever and unexpected ways.

View the online exhibition.

Home                                                         January 19, 2019 - January 23, 2019

 Curated by Jenna Stanton

Artists come from all over the world to work in Medalta’s studios, bringing their unique experiences, techniques, and ideas to the Historic Clay District.This exhibition celebrates the artists who have decided to make Medicine Hat their home after completing their residency as well as the cultural impact this influx of artists with international careers has brought to the community of Medicine Hat.


Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto


MANOLO BLAHNIK:  THE ART OF SHOES    May 16, 2018 - January 6, 2019

A stunning retrospective by one of the world’s most influential figures within the fashion industry. For over 45 years, Blahnik’s inventiveness and superb artisanship has crossed boundaries between fashion and art, inspiring elegance and perfection. The underlying theme of the exhibition – that shoes are art –aligns perfectly with Blahnik’s own approach to creating footwear.  The BSM is excited to be the final and only North American venue to showcase this travelling exhibition.  Previous stops on the international tour included Milan, Saint Petersburg, Prague and Madrid.

The Gold Standard: Glittering Footware from Around the Globe                                   Through 2019

The Gold Standard: Glittering Footwear from Around the Globe features some of the Bata Shoe Museum’s most impressive and precious artefacts and explores the meanings and cultural uses of golden footwear across the globe.


Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau

Medieval Europe – Power and Splendour
June 8, 2018 - January 20, 2019

Step into the legendary world of Medieval Europe. Meet powerful monarchs and chivalric knights, devout religious leaders and talented craftsmen. Experience the opulent life of court and the bustling world of newly developing urban centres. Admire the beautiful, vibrant art for which this period is renowned and witness the formation of states and cultures still recognized today. Medieval Europe – Power and Splendour brings together over 200 exquisite artifacts from the world-renowned British Museum to tell the story of this fascinating time in European history.

Developed by the British Museum in collaboration with the Canadian Museum of History.


Craft Council of British Columbia, Vancouver                    


Being Seen, Being Heard, Expressing a Voice                                                         

January 31, 2019 - March 14, 2019

This exhibition features the work of five emerging female artists who have come together to express their unique world view and artistic voice. They demonstrate that a vessel is not just a container, and a jewel is not simply an adornment and that utility does not make an object bereft of a spirit. Please join us for this exciting and illuminating exhibition which offers powerful insights into soul and selfhood.


Gardiner Museum, Toronto


Diana Reitberger Collection
August29, 2018- January2, 2019

The Diana Reitberger Collection of Modern and Contemporary Ceramics stands out for both its breadth and focus. Its arrival at the Gardiner Museum significantly enhances the institution’s representation of Canadian artists across an extraordinary spectrum of contemporary approaches, including vessels, figurative sculpture, and abstract forms. The Reitberger Collection is significant also for revealing new connections between Canadian artists and leading international makers from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan. As a whole, it presents an overview of recent activity in the field of studio ceramics with an emphasis on Canada, yet an eye to the world.

Obsession: Sir William Van Horne's Japanese Ceramics
October20, 2018- January20, 2019

The second half of the 19th century was a golden age of collecting in Europe and North America. The epicenter in Canada was Montreal, then the country’s economic powerhouse. In a period of colonial expansion, its business leaders collected and displayed European and Asian art to convey their emerging power and status.

Sir William Van Horne (1843-1915), the American-born builder of the Canadian Pacific Railway, was one such collector. While the public rooms of his Montreal mansion included masterpieces by Rembrandt, Turner, and others, he confessed to loving the Japanese ceramics in his private study most of all.

Japan Now: Female Masters
September7, 2018- January13, 2019

Today, Japanese clay art is experiencing one of the richest and most diverse periods in its long history. Throughout 2018, three lobby displays, curated by Joan B. Mirviss, an authority on Japanese ceramics and a New York City gallery owner for 40 years, will feature the work of ground-breaking Japanese ceramists who stand on the world stage, boldly asserting their independence, creativity, and technical genius.

Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

Toy Soilders
Beginning February 16, 2019

In 1991, during his tenure as Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable Henry N. R. Jackman donated his historic collection of toy soldiers to the Royal Ontario Museum. 

While there are a few of these collectables currently on display in the J.F. Driscoll Family Stair of Wonders, this new installation will showcase almost all of the Hal Jackman Toy Soldier Collection, which traces the historic life span of Britains Ltd., one of the world’s pioneers in the manufacturing of toy soldiers. Visitors are invited to enjoy the artistry and detail of this outstanding collection, and learn about the legacy of Britains Ltd.’s years of lead toy production from 1893-1966.


McCord Museum, Montreal


Treasures in the Attic                                      Until January 6, 2019

Everyone is invited to pop over to see the grandparents of twins William and Sara, as the attic of their house has a collection of toys from 1890 to today.

Filled with forgotten treasures, this attic has become a repository of memories of all the families who have lived in the house. Piles of boxes hold a rich and fascinating world where childhood is frozen in time and that have become the final resting place for GI Joe, Barbie, Mr. Potato Head, rocking horses, toboggans, stuffed animals, board games, old dolls, toy soldiers, furniture, books and photographs.

Enchanted Worlds

November 13, 2018 - January 6, 2019

Montrealers have been spellbound by the mechanical displays in Ogilvy’s department store window every Christmastime since 1947. The Bavarian scenes, custom made by the German toy manufacturer Steiff, feature dozens of handcrafted animals working and playing.

In 1911, the firm began producing mechanical windows featuring moving animals, which stores could rent or purchase to order – an effective way of entertaining children while promoting their merchandise. John Aird Nesbitt, who owned Ogilvy’s department store from 1927 to 1985, bought two – The Enchanted Villageand The Mill in the Forest.

Similar to those of department stores in other parts of the world, like Macy’s in New York or the Galeries Lafayette in Paris, these window displays are among the last of their kind in North America.


Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver


In a Different Light:  Reflecting on Northwest Coast Art                                                      June 22, 2017 - Spring 2019

In a Different Light presents more than 110 historical Indigenous artworks and marks the return of many important works to British Columbia. These objects are amazing artistic achievements. Yet they also transcend the idea of ‘art’ or‘artifact’. Through the voices of contemporary First Nations artists and community members, this exhibition reflects on the roles historical artworks have today.

Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto

Crosscurrents:  Canada in the Making         June 27, 2018 - March 31, 2019

Crosscurrentsexplores ongoing cultural exchanges and interactions between Indigenous people, settler Canadians and newcomers over the last two centuries, and examines shifting identities, intersections and contestations that inform textile expressions alongside the stories of those who make Canada their home. Through collaborations and confrontations, memories, dreams and traditions converge to reveal a dynamic and multi-layered textile landscape: hooked rugs, blankets, quilts, bead work, basketry and other iconic objects illustrate broad cultural crosscurrents and values that continue to inspire new generations of textile practitioners. The exhibition draws from the TMC’s rich Canadian collection of historic artifacts, and features the work of contemporary artists as well as loans from private and public collections.

Beads:  They're Sewn so Tight                 October 10, 2018 - May 26, 2019

In beadwork, threads create structure and hold beads together, creating a seemingly invisible scaffold. As metaphor and as material, they unite form, design and meaning. Beads, they’re sewn so tighttakes up the depths of social and political relations expressed through beadwork, including living traditions, family and community networks – embedded in the visual language of pattern and surface design.

Beads, they're sewn so tightpresents the work of artists Bev Koski, Katie Longboat, Jean Marshall and Olivia Whetung, who employ distinct techniques in their approach to using beads and thread. From bead weaving to loom work and bead embroidery, their artwork threads through formal concerns of colour and design attending to critical issues such as language retention, stereotypes and social/environmental injustices for Indigenous people.

Craft Ontario, Toronto

Housewarming: Call for Entry                   January 19, 2019 - March 2, 2019

Setting up a home is an essential human experience, and includes traditions and customs that vary across different cultures, times and locations. With the movement of people across the globe, including growing urban centres and transitions to new countries, the establishment of new homes happens every day. Part of this process is defining the spaces we inhabit through the objects that we use. Housewarming explores these objects through examining what it means for an object to be both useful and meaningful, and how they can contribute to the many possible experiences of home.

The Canadian Society of Decorative Arts/ Cercle canadien des arts décoratifs was formed, with the generous support
of the Macdonald Stewart Foundation, to provide a forum for all those interested in the decorative arts.
© 2016 Canadian Society of Decorative Arts / Cercle canadien des arts décoratifs