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Montessory Centenary Exhibition in Toronto







NAMTA's* traveling exhibit on Maria Montessori's life and work was created to advance the public awareness of world Montessori achievements - past, present and future.

The exhibit traveled to eight North American cities during the year of the centenary.

Montessori Society of Canada in collaboration with Humberside Montessori School hosted the exhibit's only stop in Canada, from May 14-25, 2007, at the Humberside Montessori School in Toronto.

The Centenary Exhibit In Toronto ⥦lection
By Felix Bednarski, Principal, Humberside Montessori School
It is with great nostalgia that I write these words. The exhibition is long gone but the excitement of hosting it is still vibrant in many of our minds.

The exhibition was brought to Canada as a collaborative project by the Montessori Society of Canada and Humberside Montessori School. The exhibit was displayed in the gym of Humberside Montessori School from May 14, 2007 to May 25, 2007 and was open to the general public, parents, teachers and students from Montessori schools. This centenary project was conceived by NAMTA and its Executive Director David Kahn. There were many other individuals on the exhibit and editorial teams including AMI Secretariat, Deborah Bricker, Mary Hayes, Monte Kenison, Gerard Leonard, Renilde Montessori, Renee Pendleton, Romana Schneider, Megan Tyne and Angela Zohlen. Dr. Thomas Mueller and VS-Furniture of Germany was a major partner and managed the exhibit fabrication and design.

The Centenary Exhibit offered 100 years of photographs, video clips, classroom materials, artwork, furniture and architecture as it appeared in different cultures on all continents, from 1907 to present days. The photographs were displayed on vertical panels with associated written descriptions. Archival Montessori and non-Montessori materials were displayed in the plexi glass display cases. The layout of the visual elements was extremely inviting and it led visitors on a tour along two trails: one was historical, ⥧inning in 1907 in San Lorenzo, Italy, and the other, contemporary, 㨯wing the new expansion of the Montessori movement in countries like South Africa, Tanzania, Japan and China.

The exhibit was enriched with the presence of David Kahn who led the teachers on a Montessori Journey during evening seminars. The universality of Dr. Montessori୥ssage was felt at every angle of the exhibit. Some of the focal points of the exhibit included, the story of the Montessori movement after the first publication of the Montessori Method in 1913, the hand-made Montessori materials from Africa, the viewing of 䩳onġy� documentary film shot by Tim Kahn, continuous relaxing music played throughout the exhibit and the welcoming Children͵ral ᠣollage project of childrenलawings from 30 schools around the globe, and much, much more.

On behalf of the Montessori Society of Canada and Humberside Montessori School, I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to many individuals, schools and corporations who have given so generously to this Centenary Exhibit. We would also like to extend our deep appreciation to the many volunteers, teachers, parents, and friends of the Montessori Community for their time in hosting the exhibit. Their unwavering support allowed us to bring the Centenary Exhibit to Toronto.

To close this reflection on the Centenary Exhibit I would like to give a voice to all the visitors who wrote their testimonials. The following are their words put together as an expression of their feelings and emotions. We hope that their words will give you a good picture of why it was necessary to bring the Centenary Exhibition to Toronto.

"Last week I visited the Montessori Centenary Exhibition at Humberside Montessori School in Toronto. It was incredible to see how widespread the Montessori movement has been over the last one hundred years. What was interesting was the sense of the Universal Child. How children through time and space have been enriched by the same materials, the same concept of a prepared environment, and by the same faith in each individual child. ...This was an excellent presentation on the history of Montessori around the world!...Thanks goes out to David Kahn and his team at NAMTA for putting this incredible show together. Thanks also needs to go to Felix Bednarski at Humberside who took on the task of bringing the exhibition to Toronto...Your work and efforts are commendable. Congratulations! What a success!"

"Simply a work of unimaginable proportion. Art materialized. History realized... What a marvelous tribute to Dr. Maria Montessori and the children of the world - past, present and future. Thank you for bringing this exhibit to Canada for us all to be inspired and continue the work of Dr. Maria Montessori...What a life! What a vision! What a gift! Thank you Maria Montessori for celebrating the child... A wonderfully presented and emotionally moving exhibit. Thank you so much!"

"This was an absolutely beautiful exhibit. I feel truly inspired by all of the work that has been accomplished in the field of Montessori Education around the world... Thank you so much for all of the work, love, and care into making an exhibit that documents 100 amazing years of Montessori!...What an inspiration! What a true humanitarian and role model for everyone. Thank you, Dr. Maria Montessori... If we are doing what Maria Montessori initiated and all those after her, then our future is in the right direction 穴h the child."

"It must move more quickly (the movement) if we are to help all children realize what a wonderful pleasure it is to be alive and to help the world in all ways possible for the common good with the unique talent we each bring to life, great and small... Thank you for all your efforts in organizing such an informative display of educational movement. It was worth the trip! It proves the international power of the Montessori Method, and thank you for making this Centenary year so special!...I enjoyed the exhibit immensely. What a great journey!"

"Thank you for bringing this exhibit together. It is a beautiful, inspiring and humbling experience to see the evolution of a system and philosophy of learning which has inspired and now guides my life...Insightful 鮴eresting ᠴrue history that is undeniably influential and effective. Wish there were more!...Wonderful exhibit. Truly a great experience to witness and absorb!"

"Great exhibition! Thank you for allowing the public to come and see what Montessori was and still is about...Peace, helping others and take part in all community activities...What a beautiful legacy and what a privilege to have it in Toronto...An inspiring and uplifting experience to help continue Maria Montessori෯rk!"

"Dear Exhibit organizers, with great appreciation and thanks for bringing the Centenary Montessori Exhibit to Toronto. The exhibition gives a tangible sense of our past, present and future. Let൮ite with a loud voice to 衭pion the cause of all childrenͯntessori is a 馴ed educationᮤ every child deserves to experience it... Thank you for making this powerful and moving opportunity available to us. It has been inspirational...Thank you so very much for bringing this to us and bringing us together."

"As a Montessori teacher I did not want to miss this wonderful opportunity. The exhibit was very joyful and I am proud to be a Montessori teacher and parent...The beauty of the child through the ages is seen in every picture...Thank you for paying tribute to such a wonderful way of life."

"I have been here at the Exhibit about five times, both as a volunteer and a visitor. I have enjoyed it immensely. It has increased my desire and persistence to work with the children, and definitely made me a stronger Montessori teacher and person... It is an affirmation of why I do what I do!... It has given me a broader understanding of Montessori as a way of life, where it can go and how it can lead... I am humbled by the work gone before and am excited about my part in the journey. Truly phenomenal...thank you for bringing our rich Montessori history to life... This is an excellent exhibit! Such an inspiration to all teachers."

I thank you all for the opportunity of working on this passionate project.

Montessori Centenary Exhibit in Toronto
Felix Bednarski, Shannon Helfrich, Anne Laws
Allison O'Dwyer
Children's Mural
David Kahn and students (1)
David Kahn and students (2)
David Kahn and students (3)
David Kahn and students (4)
*NAMTA: North American Montessori Teachers' Association (website)

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