Queen's University — Since 1873
9th February 2007

Hidden treasures at Queen’s

Lesser-known galleries and museums allow you to escape the everyday without ever leaving campus

The Museum of Health Care features a collection of creepy health-related wax models like these from the 1940s, which feature the symptoms of syphilis.
The Museum of Health Care features a collection of creepy health-related wax models like these from the 1940s, which feature the symptoms of syphilis. (B. Shiva Mayer)

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Other than a tiny, insignificant incident involving navigation through Mac-Corry in search of the
elusive academic advisors’ office, I’d like to think I know campus pretty well. After all, I am in my third year here; I should have a decent grasp on my surroundings.

But as I stared at the abbreviation “MIL” on my QCARD schedule, I was at a total loss. MIL? I’d never
heard of it before. And you can just imagine my surprise stepping into Miller Hall for the first time. What was this place? My apparent lack of knowledge doesn’t seem to be unique among students.

Danyal Martin, admissions co-ordinator for the University’s admissions services, said campus tours given to incoming students mainly focus on high-traffic, general-use areas.

“In general, the campus tours are quite flexible. It’s really sort of dependent upon who is in the group. If there’s someone interested in politics, you might point out Mac-Corry,” she said. “The campus tours are really designed to show off student life or frequently used buildings, buildings that are used by a variety of different disciplines.” Martin said the tours visit buildings like Mac-Corry, Stauffer, the JDUC, the PEC, one residence, one cafeteria and one of the larger lecture halls in either BioSci or Dunning Hall. The lesser known buildings and attractions don’t get as much attention, unless specifically requested.

“We do sometimes in the summer get requests for more tourist tours of campus. For instance, alumni groups or tourist groups that come and they want more history or interesting stories of the building,” Martin said. “The campus tours are more geared towards prospective students.”

What about students who want to have the tourism experience between classes? Since my own knowledge of the campus suddenly seemed greatly exaggerated and in dire need of revision, I set out to investigate some of the mysteries of the campus.

In an effort to redeem myself, I bring you this guide to places on campus you never knew existed.

The Miller Museum of Geology

Carefully labelled and displayed in quaint wood cases, the museum is filled with rock, mineral and fossil specimens of every shape and form. For some reason, the first thing that came to my mind walking in was “Indiana Jones.”

Of course, that could be because I’m obsessed with that particular protagonist and had just finished
rewatching “The Last Crusade” for the umpteenth time the night before, but scanning the room of rocks and fossils, I half-expected a Harrison Ford look-a-like, complete with a bow tie and tweed jacket, to appear.

The museum features some especially spectacular fossils and is open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to
5 p.m. Plus, there’s no admission charge, which goes to prove, geology rocks! (You know I had to
throw that in somewhere.)

Agnes Etherington Art Gallery

According to staff, as few as four or five students visit the gallery a day. I was surprised. For all
you math geeks out there, that’s less than 0.03 per cent of the student population.

What’s going on here? After all, it can’t be a location problem. The building is right in the middle of campus, not to mention visually unique with its modern design amidst the more traditional buildings.
The only thing I could conclude is that the majority of the students simply don’t know enough about it.
Famous for its Rembrandt, the art centre houses more than 14,000 pieces in their permanent collection, ranging from the classic to t he abstract to ethnic sculptures. Rotated on a regular basis, the gallery puts on 15 exhibitions annually.

It’s a great way to relax between classes, especially if you have those pesky one-hour gaps. Take some time and enjoy the peace and quiet while treating your brain to some much deserved R&R.
While I’ll be the first one to admit I’m not an expert on abstract art, the centre tries to appeal to everyone. One memorable exhibit I experienced there was on the architectural designs of the
Thousand Islands.

Admission is free with your student card, which is always a bonus. The centre also offers workshops and seminars throughout the year. Check out their web site at www.aeac.ca.

Queen’s Observatory

I would have never known about this place if it weren’t for Physics 107. I still remember climbing that
little ladder into the dome and seeing the telescope for the first time, looking like a prop from
Star Wars. The stars were amazing. Staring at them, it really makes you wonder about the universe and its vastness. Perfect environment if ever you feel the need to be inspired. The observatory has open houses on the second Saturday of every month. For more information, visit their web site at observatory.phy.queensu.ca.

Queen’s Archives

Located in the medical quadrangle, most of you have probably passed it on your way to Humphrey
Hall. The unassuming little house, Kathleen Ryan Hall, is actually home to Queen’s archives.

Due to the size of the building, most of the archive’s exhibitions are online. They do, however, have some great pictures of past initiation traditions posted in the foyer. Looking from the pictures, I’m glad most of the rituals are no longer practiced. If you want to learn more, venture upstairs to the archival
office. The staff are extremely knowledgeable and eager to help.

I definitely learned a lot about the history of the campus on my visit.

Museum of Health Care

This museum houses many fascinating and creepy relics of the days when medicine was a little less exact. The collection includes vaginal speculums that would make the modern woman cringe, wax models of ovarian cysts that make Madame Tussaud’s collection seem charming, and a set of painful-looking tooth extraction turn-keys. Though clearly not for the faint of heart, the Museum of Health
Care is one of the most interesting places on campus to spend an afternoon.

For more information and to see some of the 27,000 photographs of medical memorabilia they have
online, visit museumofhealthcare.ca. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, and admission is by donation.

Whether you’re in your first year or your fourth year, now is the time to discover that there may be more to this campus than sustainable coffee shops and limestone buildings.

Spend an afternoon investigating the more unusual locales—you just might learn something at this university after all.

—With files from Meghan Sheffield

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