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The Art of Time

The Art of Time exhibition © Espace pour la vie
The Art of Time

Many of us feel that we need more than 24 hours in a day. Our agendas are overflowing with appointments while time runs on, full speed ahead. This year, the four Space for Life institutions invite visitors to take the time to slow down their frenetically-paced lives and to enjoy the present moment. You can do so while discovering the dozen ancient sundials in The Art of Time exhibit at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium.

The sundial is one of the oldest instruments invented by man. It marks the passage of time using the sun and a gauge (called a gnomon) that can cast a shadow on a graded surface called the dial plate. The shadow takes a full day to move around the plate, so observing the passage of time on a sundial requires patience.

Although the first sundials appeared in Egypt 3,500 years ago, it was the 17th and 18th centuries that constituted the golden age for the production of these practical instruments. The Art of Time brings together fixed sundials and portable models, designed to be easily moved around, all dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. You’ll be fascinated by these beautiful sundials. Measuring instruments and art objects both, they capture the eye. Each is unique, the fruit of the imagination of the sundial maker who created it. They’ll amaze you with their form, their brilliance, their mottos, their decorative engravings and the intriguing way they work. Sundials in The Art of Time exhibit are from the collections of the Stewart Museum and the Museum of Civilization. They’re presented in cylindrical displays, and the lighting makes them appear like true gems. Much more than just measuring tools, the sundials presented in this exhibit reflect the relationship of humans to time and the cosmos. They evoke an era when daily activities were regulated by the course of the sun and invite us to return to a more natural rhythm. Take the time to contemplate and marvel at these magnificent instruments for measuring time...it will distract you from your watch or your smartphone!

July 5, 2014, to January 4, 2015, The Art of Time is presented in the lobby of the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. Access to exhibits at the Planetarium is free; there are entrance fees only for the multimedia and astronomy shows.
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