Curated by Dr. Marcus Milwright (Department of Art History and Visual Studies)
View the exhibition catalogue here
This exhibition marks the centenary of the start of of the “Great War” with a cross cultural focus on the visual and material culture of World War I. The exhibition includes books, prints, and personal objects drawn from the Legacy Art Galleries, the UVic Libraries (Special Collections and Archives), and private collections in Victoria. These objects present visual manifestations of the war in the theatres of conflict in Europe and the Middle East as well as the production and consumption of art and literature in Canada between 1914 and 1918. Visitors will also see unique examples of European and Middle Eastern “trench art”, a term which refers to objects made by soldiers in times of conflict as well as those made of spent artillery shells and other military equipment by civilian artisans after the cessation of hostilities. Another central part of the exhibit is the so-called “J.M. Diary.” The curator is inviting the public to solve the mystery of who illustrated this fascinating first-hand visual account.
Help solve the History Mystery!
History mystery of Great War diary. View the diary here
A two-volume leather diary of the First World War is missing the name of its soldier diarist and the University of Victoria is hoping history buffs or family members will help solve the mystery.
“It’s a history mystery worthy of its own exhibition,” says Dr. Marcus Milwright of UVic’s Department of Art History & Visual Studies. He is the curator of the Arts of World War I exhibit which opened Nov. 7 at UVic and says he knew right away there was one item in the collections he “just had to use. But there’s only one problem: I have no idea who it actually belonged to.”
UVic has no record of where the diary came from, only that it was purchased from a private seller. UVic Libraries has been trying for some time to solve this mystery as well and is hoping the war’s centennial will spark new leads. Milwright’s theory is it was sold by a family member, possibly through an estate sale following the death of J.M.’s daughter.
“The dedication says, ‘To my daughter, Adele’,” adds Milwright. The images “look to me like book illustrations, so it’s probable J.M. was a trained painter or illustrator.”
If anyone knows anything about J.M., Adele M. or the diary, please contact Milwright at firstname.lastname@example.org.