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Muskoka Discovery Centre

Evolving Muskoka: Life on the Edge of the Shield

Telling Muskoka’s story over the last 150-plus years

The Muskoka of today is introduced in “Evolving Muskoka: Life on the Edge of the Shield,” one of three new major exhibits opening this summer at the newly expanded and revitalized Muskoka Discovery Centre (MDC) in Gravenhurst.

Along with “Misko-Aki: Confluence of Cultures” and “Wanda III: Steam to Green,” “Evolving Muskoka: Life on the Edge of the Shield” presents a whole new way to experience Muskoka.

John Miller, MSDC President said, “Evolving Muskoka: Life on the Edge of the Shield presents the evolution of the character of the District of Muskoka over the last 150-plus years, through three central themes: the advent of transformative technologies, the arrival of new people and growth of communities; and the development of new industries.”

Curator Ann Curley explained, “Together, the stories uncovered by these three themes highlight Muskoka’s core paradox — how disruption, destruction and struggle have brought into being a place known for its peace, its tranquility, and its powerfully affecting natural beauty. The tension in this paradox takes us to our current moment and the question of how to maintain Muskoka for the future.

“As in all great experiences, the real impact isn’t on the walls and in the display cases, it’s in our visitors’ hearts and minds.”

Throughout “Evolving Muskoka: Life on the Edge of the Shield,” the landscape and the environment are the main actors. The exhibit’s three central themes:

Technological transformations — An exploration of the application and impact of technologies, from steam power to combustion, on the opening up and development of Muskoka’s landscapes and communities.

People on the land — Considering the different experiences and relationships to the land of Muskoka’s communities, including Indigenous Peoples, Euro-Canadian settlers, cottagers and people of today, and their impact on the culture and landscape of the District.

Economic drivers — Exploring Muskoka’s primary economic drivers, including resource extraction industries and the vacation economy, and their impacts on the culture and landscapes of the District.

Muskoka forever — A forward-looking conclusion to the exhibit, which considers the delicate environmental balance of life in Muskoka and the importance of sustainability as a means to ensuring a bright future for the District and all that makes it special.Building understanding and awareness

Physically, the exhibit presents itself through an open plan that allows visitors to see and explore different elements according to their own interests and preferences.

The exhibit’s visual approach, encompassing graphics, typography, colours, and use of imagery, have all been designed and coordinated to build understanding and awareness of the many communities who have contributed to Muskoka’s past and present.

The Evolving Muskoka exhibit has been developed for audiences that include families, tourists, Muskoka residents — both permanent and seasonal — and school groups. Universal design principles have been applied to ensure accessibility and a range of communication channels and tactile experiences to meet the needs of all visitors.

Said Miller: “Evolving Muskoka: Life on the Edge of the Shield delivers an entertaining, authentic and informative experience that encourages and even challenges visitors to think about Muskoka in new and more nuanced ways.”

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