University of Waterloo game collection finds a new home at the Canadian Museum of Civilization

June 2, 2010

University of Waterloo game collection finds a new home at the Canadian Museum of Civilization

Gatineau, Quebec, April 19, 2010 — One of the most extensive collections of family and children’s games in the world is being acquired by the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

The remarkably diverse collection of games from around the world began as a teaching aid at the University of Waterloo, as part of the work and hobby of Professor Elliott Avedon. His Games Collection and Archives currently includes over 5,000 objects and documents, many uniquely Canadian.

The University of Waterloo announced today that it will transfer the Collection to the Museum of Civilization to ensure its proper care and preservation, and access for researchers. The Collection used to be housed in a museum on campus, which closed last year.

“The Avedon Collection is a resource of national and historical significance,” said David Johnston, President of the University of Waterloo. “We are proud of its association with Waterloo and delighted to know that it will be properly protected and studied in Canada’s national museum of social and cultural history.”

“Games provide a wealth of information about a culture — such as the values and interests of a society, as well as the technology at their disposal. This collection is a treasure trove,” said Dr. Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “We thank the University of Waterloo for entrusting us with this resource, and we applaud the great work done by Professor Avedon and his colleagues who created this collection over many years.”

The collection of traditional and offbeat games was established by its namesake, Elliott Avedon, a professor in the University’s department of recreation and leisure studies from 1971 to 1995. It began with his own modest assortment of game pieces which he used in classroom demonstrations.

As his daughter, Madeline, fondly remembers, Avedon’s game collecting became his passion, and the hunt for games became the focus of many family vacations in Canada and abroad. She recalls with amusement her father’s regular requests for “donations” of forgotten games from his own kids’ toy boxes, “whisked away the next day for the benefit of the collection and future generations.” Professor Avedon also received donated games from students and staff, and eventually from the general public in Canada and abroad.

Today, the collection includes a wide array of card, board, dice and electronic games, plus information about games played in ancient times in the Americas and on other continents. The international and historical content make the collection especially valuable to those studying cultural diffusion and human interaction throughout history.

Although Elliott Avedon is now retired and living in Florida, he maintains a keen interest in games and in the unique collection that bears his name.

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