Like entering a time capsule, visitors will discover Guelph of 20 years ago. Told through the stories of the people who spent time at The Bookshelf, a cultural hub in this city since 1973.
Downtown Guelph in the late 1990s was vibrant, brimming with entrepreneurship, and teeming with energy. Barb and Doug Minett were the owner-operators of The Bookshelf, a cultural hub in downtown Guelph since 1973. They had the idea to capture Guelph’s unique social environment through a portrait series. Their concept was inspired by an exhibition they had seen in Toronto, a salon-style installation of black-and-white portraits by German photographer August Sander (1876–1964). They commissioned Guelph photographer Dean Palmer.
Barb, Doug, and Dean compiled a list of more than 100 downtown personalities, local business owners, and people who were shaping Guelph’s cultural community. They called the project The Greenroom Series, after the dining space adjacent to the eBar, where the portraits were exhibited. The title also alludes to the “green room” in theatre where performers can relax when they are not performing. The completed series featured 16 portraits of people photographed in their natural environments.
Featuring portraits of Andy the Barber, Ian Findlay, Jaqueline Gilbey, Diego Hadarits, Ajay Heble, Tom King, Grant Love, Mark McAlpine, Fred Mollison, Harri Palm and Molly Kurvink, Fredericka Potvin, Ryan Price, Joan Rentoul, Tannis Slimmon, Emma Smith, and Jessica Steinhauser.
The Greenroom Series was donated to Guelph Museums’ permanent collection in 2018. This exhibition represents the series in its entirety, encapsulating Guelph on the cusp of the new millennium.
Guelph Museums curator Dawn Owen chats about Guelph Circa 1999 with special guests Ajay Heble, Dean Palmer, Ian Findlay, Jessica Steinhauser, and Mark McAlpine. Watch guests compete in a 90s trivia challenge, as they reflect on the cultural life of Guelph in the 1990s.