Not long ago, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) reopened the lovely Grange house to visitors. Naturally, I had to go and check it out, especially since they offer tours of the recently discovered excavations on the first floor of the house and in the basement. I have to say that the tour was amazing! Our guide, Kelly, told a compelling story of a discovery of documents written by the first butler of the manor, Henry White. In these documents, the historians found a map of the house indicating where a certain maid by the name of Mary O’Shea a.k.a Amber, hid a bunch of creepy things including a rabbit’s skull, human hair and teeth and most impressively a whole leg of lamb (pictured here), all covered in bees wax. Yeah, insane! Kelly went into extensive details explaining how Amber was able to do all this dirty work while being a maid at the prestigious house of D’Arcy Bolton for 30 years. All in all, very impressive. At the end of the tour, I was given a piece of paper sealed with a sticker from the Anthropological Services Ontario that was simply thrown in my purse with the rest of the receipts and junk I carry in there. This piece of paper that I ended up reading after my partner-in-crime on this journey told me to, made me angrier than ever. Long story short, it’s all a fake carefully prepared by Iris Haussler and Dr. David Moos of the AGO. Sorry to ruin it for those who haven’t seen the exhibit yet but I was very disappointed! Being interested in history and especially history that you get to experience and witness with your own eyes, I was truly angry to find out that everything I saw at The Grange that night was made up. Worst of all, nobody tells you this! I can’t imagine how many people left the exhibit in awe and never read that piece of scrap and still believe that everything they saw was legitimate.
The AGO labels this project of professional historical lying as ‘contemporary art’. A more in-depth analysis indicates a principle called “haptic conceptual art, a practice that deals with deep questions of the human condition, but indicates them through direct experience, rather than through theoretical discourse.”
Although I get this ‘contemporary art’ idea and do think that it is interesting, unique and intriguing, I hope that instead of giving a piece of paper at the end of the tour, the tour guides inform everyone that the exhibit is faux.
None the less, I still think that this should be experienced, at least to check out the oldest brick house in Tdot that will always be a historical architectural landmark.