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Lecture: Aesthetics and Colour Research at the University of Toronto’s Psychological Laboratory, by Erich Weidenhammer

  • Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library (Maclean Hunter Room) 120 Saint George Street Toronto, ON Canada (map)

Aesthetics and Colour Research at the University of Toronto’s Psychological Laboratory

by Erich Weidenhammer, PhD (University of Toronto)

Between 1893 and 1908, the German-born psychologist August Kirschmann (1860-1932), led the University of Toronto’s newly founded psychological laboratory. Trained by the founder of experimental psychology, Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920), Kirschmann was among an early generation of psychologists who spread the technology and instrumental practices of the field to laboratories across Europe and North America. Kirschmann’s main area of study was colour perception—a vital field during a period in which the technology of colour and illumination was advancing rapidly. Working within the Department of Philosophy, his laboratory research informed his views on aesthetics and art criticism that he articulated in his lecturing and writing.

This talk focuses on the tools and technology of colour research used in Kirschmann’s Toronto laboratory, as well as their role in supporting Kirschmann’s belief in a renewed science of aesthetics. The talk will include a display of surviving artifacts used in the Laboratory. It will also include some colour-related artifacts from the University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services (UTARMS), and the Fisher Rare Books Library.

Erich Weidenhammer is Curator of the University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection (UTSIC.org), an effort to safeguard and catalogue the material culture of research and teaching at the University of Toronto. He is also an Adjunct Curator for Scientific Processes at Ingenium: Canada's Museums of Science & Innovation in Ottawa. Erich received his PhD in 2014 from the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IHPST) of the University of Toronto for a dissertation that explored the relationship between chemistry and medicine in late eighteenth-century Britain.

Associate, Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology

Adjunct Curator, Scientific Processes, Ingenium: Canada's Museums of Science & Innovation

Curator, University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection

Earlier Event: November 7
CRSC Social + Meet the Members Night