A new project looks to preserve the history of B.C.’s museums.
The historical collection at the Kaatza Historical Society’s museum in Lake Cowichan will soon be archived online, as well as audio interviews about the facility, its history, and current initiatives with the society’s president and museum manager.
The initiative is part of the BC Museum Portraits Project which is working to collect the “institutional memory” of the province’s many museums and archives.
Project manager Spencer W. Stuart and photographer Tayu Hayward visited the Kaatza Historical Society’s museum on Nov. 1, and were also to visit the Ladysmith & District Historical Society, the Shawnigan Lake Museum and the Chemainus Valley Museum while visiting the Cowichan Valley on the Vancouver Island leg of their provincial tour of museums and archives.
Stuart said that at times, the history of museum collections in the province sound like variations on a theme, like a bicentennial collection with an early intake of items from the turn of the century, or a historical society with a few members who were avid collectors.
“However, from these foundations, museum volunteers, and later professionals, carved out pathways through time to our present day and with this passage, new interpretations emerge,” he said.
“Regional museums have the advantage in scale over larger museums in Vancouver and Victoria. The local museums have exhibitions that deal with local issues and work in lock step in showing how a community changes over time.”
Stuart said the project is working to create a reference point for professionals and local communities who may know a museum’s collection, but may not know its history.
“This will be an ongoing project in which we will continually update the online archives as things change for each museum,” he said.
“Each museum will have its own webpage on the B.C. Museum Association’s website where people can see the collection and listen to audio tapes of the people who work in them.”
Since February, 2020, BC Museum Portraits has covered 20 museums and archives in the Lower Mainland, as well as the addition of virtual conversations with further afield institutions to develop connections in the seven other distinct regions in the province beside Vancouver Island.
Portraits of museums from the Island as well as others on the Mainland can be viewed through the BCMA site https://museum.bc.ca/membership/bc-museum-portrait-program/