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New book on Expo 67

When Montreal opened itself to the world and invited it in.

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | MAR 07 2011

It transformed a city, transfixed a nation and drew the attention of the world. And for those who were there, Expo 67 remains an indelible memory of a magical moment in time.

Those memories may come flooding back for readers of a new book on this iconic event, Expo 67: Not Just a Souvenir (University of Toronto Press), co-edited by Johanne Sloan, an associate professor in the department of art history at Concordia University, and colleague Rhona Richman Kenneally, chair of the university’s department of design and computation arts.

The book owes it genesis, Dr. Sloan explains, to an exhibit about Montreal in the ’60s put on by the Canadian Centre for Architecture in 2004. As part of that, she and Dr. Richman Kenneally organized a symposium that examined Expo 67 from various perspectives. Those papers, and a few solicited afterwards, form the nucleus of the book. The two also put together a display of Expo 67 artifacts – postcards, photos, an Expo 67 passport and other memorabilia – and these too became a part of the book.

“What’s fascinating here, and I think that a number of the essays bears this out, is the recognition of how these ephemeral objects, these minor gestures – which were never meant to have longevity in and of themselves – carried with them connections back to experiences that are really profound and fundamental,” says Dr. Richman Kenneally.

Despite the huge popular interest in Expo 67, there has not been much scholarly examination of it, adds Dr. Sloan. “What we tried to do with the book is to be responsive to that very popular interest, but at the same time to engage in serious scholarship.”

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