Magic Squares and the Magic of Collaboration

Friday, October 19 - 2:15pm to 3:30pm


Susan Fohr, Education Coordinator, Textile Museum of Canada; Anne Devitt, Visual Arts Teacher, Harbourfront Centre School Visits

Download the presentation materials (9.8 MB) 

Anne Devitt
Anne Devitt, Visual Arts Teacher, Harbourfront Centre School Visits and Susan Fohr, Education Coordinator, Textile Museum of Canada
Magic Squares of Collaboration
Magic Squares of Collaboration.


Session Description

As the demographics of communities in Ontario have changed over the past 50 years, museums in the province have had to find ways of being relevant to these new audiences. Museums have a role in authenticating diverse modes of cultural expression and providing a venue to foster understanding of other cultures. A recent exhibition at the Textile Museum of Canada (TMC) called Magic Squares: The Patterned Imagination of Muslim Africa in Contemporary Culture examined Islamic ideas and traditions not often communicated in contemporary mainstream media, revealing the diversity of Muslim identities throughout the world.

The exhibition examined the use of magic squares - an array of numbers in a square grid, ordered so that each row, column, and diagonal adds up to the same sum - and their use as modes of protection in Muslim communities in Africa. The exhibition emphasized the relevance of these ideas and traditions through the inclusion of work by four contemporary artists as well as objects from the TMC's permanent collection. Recognizing an important opportunity to engage students most fully in the issues and ideas raised by the exhibition, the TMC partnered with Harbourfront Centre, another cultural organization committed to diversity and multiculturalism to offer a special extended arts program in conjunction with this important exhibition. This session will highlight the ways in which our two organizations worked together to develop this program, and the impact it had on the participating students.

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