Current & Upcoming Exhibits in 2024

To Thine Own Self

To Thine Own Self is a groundbreaking exhibit and audio exploration of the history of gender diversity and fluidity presented on the Stratford Festival Stages over the past 50 years.

It launches July 30 at the Stratford Perth Museum.

The exhibit will occupy two rooms of the historic house, and will include audio interviews with some of the most celebrated actors in Canada. The exhibit will feature costumes, props, production photos and stories from ten productions that made history at the Stratford Festival. Innovative, non-traditional presentations of gender that earned both accolades and raised eyebrows.

It will also present a history of drag, not only in theatre but in the county. We promise programming that aims to open up conversations inspired by those who grew up queer in Perth County, begging the question: how far did these non-traditional representations on an international stage travel down county lines, and at what benefit… or cost? The Stratford Festival, an internationally renowned and deeply forward-thinking cultural entity came to being in a tiny rural enclave… Discuss!

You may be surprised by the local stories, artifacts and photographic history we have to share.

Explore the costumes worn by Martha Henry as Prospero, Amaka Umeh as Hamlet, and Seana McKenna as Julius Caesar. Other costumes and audio interviews include Jonathan Goad’s Titania and Nigel Bennett’s non-binary Tiresias, and many more.

The museum is also launching a special two-part podcast featuring Peter Hinton, former National Arts Centre Artistic Director and Officer of the Order of Canada. Mr. Hinton is lauded for his provocative, beautiful and shatteringly innovative productions in all of Canada’s major theatres.

Hear the stories told by the actors, directors and designers whose vision and profound creativity sparked heated reaction from the audiences and community. Through short audio sound bites and long-form interviews, visitors will hear from the artists themselves via QR code to phone audio interviews, allowing intimate and private access while strolling through the exhibit.

Inspired by the Stratford Festival’s production of La Cage Aux Folles directed by Canadian actor, director, performer and RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Thom Allison, as well as many representations on stage on glorious display this season at the Festival.

The exhibit is curated and produced by award winning theatre artist and museum General Manager Kelly McIntosh.

To Drag or Not to Drag event poster

Because We Eat

Stay tuned for our upcoming exhibit “Because We Eat” summer of 2024. We’ll explore the history of Farm to Table entrepreneurial-ship in Perth County.

Programming will include “Summer Nights at the Museum”, an opportunity to visit us on select Thursday evenings throughout the summer, and enjoy food, drink, and an open-mic celebration of food.

Railway Century

Railway Century tells the story of Stratford as a railway hub, and highlights the prosperity that Perth County’s extensive railway links brought to farmers and businesses in the region. The Locomotive Repair Shop, operated by the Grand Trunk Railway and the later the Canadian National Railway, was the driver of Stratford’s early economic development. Agriculture, dairy, furniture making and knitting mills, now connected to the world by rail, were just a few of the industries that made Perth County one of the Canada’s most prosperous counties.

Steam Locomotive

Justin Bieber: Steps to Stardom
EXTENDED until the end of 2024

The Justin Bieber exhibit, Steps to Stardom, remains in place at the Stratford Perth Museum. The exhibit, which opened in February of 2018, will now be in place until at least the end of 2024.

The museum works closely with Bieber and his family members and continues to receive new items for the exhibit. Most recently Justin’s grandparents brought a number of very personal items from Justin and Hailey’s wedding to the museum. Those items are already on display.

A recent influx of items, including a high school basketball jersey and his MTV award, are among the new items in the Steps to Stardom exhibit for 2024.

The Bieber exhibit has been an overwhelming hit for the small museum with thousands of visitors coming to see the exhibit including Justin himself and Hailey. The majority of the items in the exhibit came from his grandparents who are regular visitors to the museum.

The Steps to Stardom Exhibit is generously sponsored by Hyde Construction

VIP Justin Bieber Exhibit Backstage Pass

Get the exclusive rush of being in the presence of “The Biebs” by purchasing this backstage pass to our Steps to Stardom exhibit. This package is for any true Belieber or fan who seeks VIP treatment and behind-the-scenes access to our Justin Bieber collection. This package includes the following features:

i. Personalized Tour
ii. Hands-On Session of Justin Bieber’s personal Items not on display in the exhibit (ie. sports jersey, shoes, etc.)
iii. Photoshoot in Exhibit and if you want we will post you on our Instagram account and tag Justin
iv. Access to all exhibits

“Love Yourself” by indulging in this “One Time” offer and savor the superstar stories of this international celebrity!

PLEASE BE ADVISED: pre-booking is required. Performances begin at 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM

Purchase tickets for the Backstage VIP Tours

Justin Bieber Fans at the Museum
Justin Bieber Fans at the Museum

Hidden Qualities: Kroehler Manufacturing Company
Furniture and Family

Closing Fall of 2024…

For 70 years, Kroehlers Manufacturing was at the heart of Stratford’s furniture industry and among the world’s largest furniture companies. In the 1920s, nearly one sixth of all the furniture made in Canada was produced in Stratford and Perth County.

Kroehlers was widely recognized as community minded. They are credited for launching many organized local sports teams, fairs, social welfare projects, and service clubs. Their family philosophy was the keystone to their success and the employees were their most valued ‘Hidden Quality.’

Come and admire our varied Kroehlers collection that showcases the memories that furnished a nation.

To hear some first-hand accounts of local Kroehler’s employees, check out our Storying Resilience Podcast by Kelly McIntosh.

Thank You to The Arden Park Hotel for their generous support of this exhibit.

Hands On: Artisanal Storytelling | Closing Spring of 2024.

Tour our new Hands On exhibit with hundreds of our handmade artifacts on display…

Accompanied with artisanal storytelling…you’ll be sure to ‘grasp’ many tales from our community. Everything from Tinkers, Tailors, Tech, Toys and more you will see how things were made and the methods behind the madness!

An interactive Touch Table features activities like looming, sign language hands, log home building, and quilt designing. You can even leave your mark in the exhibit through our Helping Hands Pyrography Wood Burning for Local Charities program. Click Here for details

Special tours will take you on a tactile journey where you will be engaged with ‘hands on’ related challenges including riddles, palmistry, and even testing your own conservation and curator skills.

Click Here to attend one of our regularly scheduled tours on Saturdays starting at 1:00 PM

All Hands Are On Deck this Summer at the Stratford Perth Museum!

Special Tours can be booked by appointment by calling 1-519-393-5315.

Who Was Tom Patterson? 

Who was Tom Patterson?

“the softest-voiced, high-pressure salesman in the world.” – Tyrone Guthrie

Who Was Tom Patterson?  Well the obvious and easy answer is that he was the founder of the Stratford Festival. That falls well short of giving him his due. Even the founding of the Festival, his most significant feat, was a tireless decades-long passion that set the stage for one of the world’s great theatres. He was a salesman who convinced politicians, directors, actors, volunteers, construction companies and the business community that it was a critical venture. He then nurtured the Stratford Festival as it grew and matured. That still falls short.

He was a family man. He married twice, had five children and eight grand children. He was a veteran, a journalist, an academic, an author. His life was touched by both personal tragedy as well as monumental achievement. But above all else he was a citizen of Stratford and a citizen of the world who never looked at the plight of his hometown or the plight of others with indifference. He was a critical observer who was always looking for ways to make things better. And he was often successful – that’s who Tom Patterson really was.

This exhibit celebrates and documents the life of Tom Patterson, the founder of the Stratford Festival. Created to coincide with the opening of the new Tom Patterson Theatre and with Tom Patterson’s 100th birthday on June 11, 2020, it is now open in 2022.

The Car That Ran on Hot Air – The Brooks Steam Car

Did Oland J. Brooks’ truly intend to venture into the world of automobile manufacturing? Or was it, from the beginning, a financial scheme to sell stock to unsuspecting investors and line his own pockets?

This steamy scandal surrounded the establishment of the Brooks Steam Motors Manufacturing plant in Stratford in the 1920s. Financier Oland J. Brooks planned to manufacture a luxury steam car and employ hundreds of local machinists and mechanics. It was all an illusion. Of the 174 cars that were produced over the short life of the company, only 8 are known to exist. One is in the collection of the Stratford Perth Museum.

Thanks to a grant from…. a recreation of the interior of the Brooks factory, now provides a striking backdrop to the car, and reveals details of O.J. Brooks history as a man “brilliantly trained in the art of parting people from their money.”

Perth UP: A Retrospective of Duty and Valour

This exhibit traces the history of the Perth Regiment from its inception in 1866 to its disbandment in 1965.

The theme201505031521_0001s of duty, sacrifice, valour, brotherhood, and remembrance are used to highlight the development of the Regiment from its earliest days as a volunteer militia company fighting in the Fenian Raids, through to its role in the liberation of the Netherlands at the end of World War II.

This exhibit showcases objects, letters, photos, and personal stories from throughout the regiment’s history.

Why “Perth UP”? The Maple Leaf “UP” was an ubiquitous marker during the Second World War pointing the way to Canadian front lines. “61” represented the Perth Regiment.