Another week has flown by at Banting House! One of the big projects for this week was helping to develop the plan for World Diabetes Day which is coming up on November 14th. It celebrates Banting’s Birthday and reminds us that there is still work to be done to find a cure for diabetes. I won’t give any spoilers, but it looks like it will be a great event and the evening celebration along with the Blue Monument Challenge (where Banting House is lit in blue) will be an exciting time! Until then, we’ll be working hard to pull everything together.
I also gave my first tour of the museum this week. While I have been an interpreter at other sites, it’s always a bit intimidating to give a tour when you’re not all that experienced with the material. I was glad the gentleman I took on the tour was pretty easy-going and was very supportive when I told him that I hadn’t taken anyone through the galleries before. It was a great way to get some practice while still having the comfort of my notes with me when I needed them. Hopefully by the end of next week I will have the interpretive material down and will be a bit more comfortable explaining the significance of some of the objects that are on display. The gentleman also asked some really good questions. I was happy to realize I have picked up on a lot of the information about Banting House, but I definitely need to do some more research into the medical side of things. Giving the tour reminded me just how much I love interpretation because it can be a dynamic dialogue where I can learn about other people’s experiences.
On another note, the oil painting that was donated in the summer by Stephen Klinck is now on display with Banting’s other artwork! The painting is accompanied by a letter from A.Y. Jackson to the original owner of the painting. The letter helped to date Banting’s piece back to his time in London and how it ended up in Quebec. It’s a great addition to the collection and ties the beginning of his artwork to the same period that he came up with his hypothesis for insulin in.
While it’s not my favourite painting of his, it shows how his interest started the same way that insulin did: he needed something to occupy his time when his London practice was struggling. I think it’s very interesting that Banting continued his art throughout his life as a way to escape the pressures that he felt after his discovery. The painting seems to reflect what Banting must have been feeling at the time: it depicts a group of laborers on the move with their heads cast down. Banting’s practice in London was struggling and that feeling comes across in the painting.
The connections between the content of an exhibit and interpretation can be amazing, like Banting’s painting and what it symbolizes. It’s even better when you have a group of people who are interested in learning and sharing their stories, as well. I’m looking forward to doing more tours in the future and seeing how the new addition to the art gallery adds to the interpretation of Banting House!
This post was written by Taryn Dewar, Graduate Research Assistant at Banting House NHSC. Taryn is a Master’s candidate in Public History at the University of Western Ontario.