Museum staff delicately ‘decant’ 50 year old exhibits at the RBCM

File Photo

This Week in History:

The third floor of the Royal BC Museum has been closed since the New Year and is awaiting a refresh, fifty years in the making.  While plans for new modernized and decolonized exhibits take shape, thousands of priceless pieces of the province’s history need to be carefully catalogued.

“So we are decanting the collection”, says David Alexander, Acting VP of Collections and Research at the Museum.  “I know you’ve heard of decanting when it comes to wine and removing sediment, it’s something similar to what we’re doing with the exhibition. We will painstakingly pull each collection item out. We will do a condition report on it.  We’re going to look things like measurements.  We will potentially take photographs.”

The Museum has been dealing with a lot of concern from the public about the closing of third-floor galleries like Becoming B.C. which was full of recreated storefronts filled with turn of the century artifacts.

“These are important collections. Of course, we’re going to keep them”, says Alexander.  “We have a team of curators, collection managers, and conservation staff who are doing this work.  This is their life’s work.  They care very much about the collections and preserving the collections and making sure those collections are accessible for generations and generations.”

The VP of Collections says people will likely see many of the items being decanted again. Many are being digitized to be seen online.

“If they are not part of a new exhibition in the future, they could be part of a travelling exhibition.  They could be part of a temporary exhibition.  They could become part of one of the many digital exhibitions we have. ”

Alexander says this is an exciting time for the museum, “We have a significant part of the collection that hasn’t been on display. There are fantastic items in the collection and I think this is the opportunity to bring those items out as well.”

The RBCM estimates just 1 to 3 per cent of its collection is on display at any given time.

“As a museum, we always want to continue to refresh our exhibitions and tell different stories; To bring out different collections from the history of B.C,” says Alexander. “Absolutely, it’s an exciting time for the museum. It’s what we do in the museum world.”

[email protected]

Brad MacLeodBrad MacLeod

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!