Question 3: What opportunities are there for a modernized museum to collaborate most productively with communities across B.C.?



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37 responses to “Question 3: What opportunities are there for a modernized museum to collaborate most productively with communities across B.C.?

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    [-] Craig

    For so many families the cost of a visit to Victoria and RBCM is prohibitive – road travel (2 or 3 days), ferry, hotels, meals, entry fees. Some have no car and a limited income. If the RBCM is mandated with telling the stories of British Columbia, then all residents deserve access in some form.

    Exhibits tailored to the interests and stories of rural communities could be planned by resident RBCM staff and constructed in a shop located in BC’s interior. Professional staff and an exhibit development shop(s) would be so useful to interior archives and museums who need support. Work with community museums to plan and construct quality exhibits. Then supplement with both permanent and travelling RBCM exhibits. But, we need more than exhibits of photographic text panels or a semi-trailer with a few murals.

    Support local museums and historical societies as they try to care for and store what they own in basements, outbuildings, and.…

    Bringing the RBCM into classrooms could be accomplished by having school classes book an hour with a staff member of the RBCM. Children and staff could share and explore exhibits in the museum and ask questions via live interaction using a Steadicam. Objects taken from storage could also be shared and discussed. Most classrooms have the technical capacity to do this. The same could occur with community groups, libraries, and seniors groups.

    Consider live-feed programmes such as those at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. ‘Virtual Excursions,’ (n.d.), Retrieved
    June 23, 2019, from: .

    Quoting and personally affirming Sam Blackwell from the CBC News website June 22nd, 2019:
    “RBCM has a provincial mandate. They need to support small museums and galleries throughout the province instead of just Victoria. This means putting significant annual funds, resources and HR into providing research, curatorial expertise, design and story sharing in towns and cities across BC. Enlist local expertise and historians, engage with Indigenous communities, invite people to share their stories – all in their own landscapes and spaces.”

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    [-] N

    Visiting scientists and and historians that do workshops, presentations, residencies, etc in local communities.

    Collections should continues and focus on biodiversity, culture, and history of BC. Collections should better use citizen science both to broaden collections but also to train and educate future generations of people documenting the many varied aspects of BC.

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    [-] Syd

    In my field (species at risk), many members of the public are eager to know how to help declining species, or endangered ecosystems. The Museum can be a catalyst in these conversations. Its collections are not only a valuable source of historical, baseline information, but also document the changes that are occurring across the province, whether as a result of habitat loss or climate change. Museum staff can do old-school stuff (and there’s nothing wrong with old-school!) such as bring travelling exhibits to communities, give talks and, more importantly, enlist the help of community folk to monitor key species, whether they are birds, plants, bugs, fish, or… The modernized museum can do similar things online as well, with features about endangered species, loss of habitat, and other stories that its collections tell. These online features can be designed to get people actively involved in citizen science initiatives such as iNaturalist, eBird, BumblebeeWatch, etc. in order to help provincial scientists monitor the natural world of the province. It does often come back to personal contact, though, to really collaborate with communities, in my experience.

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    [-] Leah

    The provincial museum has a responsibility to document, record and maintain the elements of biodiversity from across the province from all communities. This needs to be based on an ongoing program of maintaining, adding to and digitizing the natural history collections. These collections are the library of life for the province. The stories that these specimens tell and have to continue to tell can be presented in so many ways, be it pop-up displays at the main museum or on the road, permanent exhibits, research papers, natural history stories in grey literature, lists that are downloaded by species or area with the relevant data, web portals, aggregator sites (GBIF, iDigBio etc.) that can be accessed by all citizens of BC and the world over and so many more methods in the future that we can not predict!

    Collections are foundational to history, telling stories that relate to both natural and human history. They are invaluable and essential for these studies that include systematics, evolution, the encroachment of alien species–to name a few. The knowledge that is held within collections are used in status assessments that inform policies and strategies that will shape and continue ot shape the stories of the province and beyond.

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    [-] D.

    collaborate with northern communities to do smaller exhibitions featuring stories of northern towns (not only indigenous stories), a lot of people in the south are disconnected with the north, have no idea where these communities are or that they even exist, projects featuring historical records as well as how the north contributes to the province on a whole ie. industry, tourism, mining, forestry, etc.

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    [-] April

    Museum staff would do best by contacting the leaders of each community to identify the cultural leads for each cultural group. These people would then be recorded telling their stories how they came to be their, issues they faced growing up, politics within each community and without and how the groups worked together and their legacies.

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    [-] CMcWillis

    Resources available to the Royal BC Museum need to be shared with local communities. Whether this be through increased travelling exhibits or interactive technology there needs to be an ability for the broader BC communities to access the knowledge held at the Royal BC Museum.

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    [-] Ellen

    Your Native Plant Garden is a unique asset for your museum. It is your museum’s green calling card right on the street. Many other museums (I think of the Royal Ontario Museum) would kill to have your garden. But right now it’s easy to overlook; it seems under-appreciated.

    Your garden would be a great way to start a conversation with many sectors, including:

    – teachers needing real-life course materials to teach nature and ecology;
    – school groups needing ideas and role models so they can create or enhance their school’s own nature or pollinator gardens
    – indigenous groups wanting examples of plants important in preparing traditional foods, fibres and medicines
    – garden groups across BC, keen to introduce native species into their adopted municipal gardens and border plantings, including rain gardens
    – municipal transportation departments, needing native species alternatives for roadside and highway plantings
    – landscape architects and designers who plan and deliver landscaping for private developments all across BC

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    [-] Jo-Anne

    -collaborate to build “living museums” in regional centers
    -collaborate using media and technology to bring people together to “explore” a problem confronting the present, using materials and experiences from the “past”. This is an applied, problem-solving approach that actively engages individuals rather than seeing consumers as passive consumers. Build creative and stimulating “simulations” appropriate to different educational backgrounds, ages and languages.
    -Collaborate with experts in local ethnic and Indigenous communities. Build a database of those who speak other languages, are experts in their cultural traditions and knowledge keepers of their communities’ histories in BC. Use this database to build a more active, diverse volunteer groups throughout the province. Use volunteers to connect communities to the museum staff.
    Appoint people from diverse backgrounds onto the Board and advisory committees, but give them meaningful jobs, not just pretty pictures and no power. There are many retired people who would love to give their time, knowledge and skills to the Museum. Make sure there is gender equity!

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    [-] nadene

    initiate a travelling museum to smaller communities throughout b.c on an ongoing basis.

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    [-] Emily

    Go to schools and do historic re-enactment plays.

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    [-] Jerri

    A museum is not a building, nor is it a collection of ‘things’, nor is it a collection of snap-shots in time. A museum is our collective identity and that identity is not holistic if voices are missing, or misrepresented and inter-dependency of people, land and climate are not explored in how it played out in different parts of BC . Why not re-image the museum as a distributed system, a network of regional nodes, curated locally, all inter-connected virtually, with each community an entrance to the network.

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    [-] Christina

    The smaller communities that have small museums of their own could advise what they have in their collections. Some of these collections could be loaned to the BC Museum for display. This would share things that most people don’t see if they don’t travel to those communities. Local stories could reach a much larger audience. For example, the Qualicum Beach Museum has a great fossil and dinosaur bone collection which would be well received.

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    [-] Lynn

    RBCM is in a bind. It has a provincial mandate but the actual building, staff, and organizational structure are situated in Victoria. My suggestion would be to ensure that a strong percentage of the museum’s annual operational budget is set aside to support small museums and communities across the province and also listen to the expertise of museum workers and regular citizens across the province.
    1) Provide inexpensive exhibits. Even free of charge as many small museums and communities don’t have the budget to put on high quality exhibitions. This could be done by shipping objects and graphics free of charge. Providing graphic standards that can be sent electronically (saving on shipping costs), etc.
    2) Conduct regular provincial engagement by listening to citizens and gathering their stories throughout the province. Collect these stories, create programs and exhibits around them and provide them back to BC residents and visitors in situ, instead of just doing everything in Victoria
    3) Provide free educational and public programs for use throughout the province
    4) Build capacity in all regions of the province by using the RBCM as a training ground and space to encourage future museum and heritage workers. Minimal or no cost training, especially to those outside the Metro Vancouver and Victoria regions.
    5) Be relevant – realize that ‘blockbuster’ exhibits don’t actually benefit BC citizens. Spend less on the blockbusters and instead work with residents to tell the real and localized stories that make BC an interesting, unique and great place to live in.
    6) Blockbusters only serve the tourist because they have nothing else offered to them by the province. Could save a lot of $ not doing these and instead investing in our communities and telling the very real stories of BC. People come to BC to experience BC, not Egypt or Pompeii or whatever.
    7) Pop-up exhibits and satellite displays put into communities throughout the province.

    All this is possible if you don’t spend so much money on blockbusters and researching irrelevant topics but instead ONLY concentrate on telling BC stories.

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    [-] Mary

    In general I think that accessibility is an issue. Museums are too expensive for many, especially if on top of the admission they need to travel to get to the museum. I don’t think this is actually really what you’re asking but it’s an important point so this is where I’m mentioning it 🙂
    I’d love to see a monthly community day where BC residents have free admission. I think this would make it easier for all residents to be a part of the museum and what it offers.

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    [-] louise

    Live contact at certain timed presentations, with other museums or communities in BC. Examples would be the Chinese museum and community in Cumberland VI, the Doukhobor communities in the Kootenays, the farmers in the Peace River area, Indigenous communities,ie in Duncan, old sawmills or fishing industry or the Chinese communities and museums, . Partnerships could be established.

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    [-] louise

    Live streaming with universities or colleges ie with the local under sea cameras used by UVic. The Safari under the sea done about 25 years ago and televised were fascinating and eagerly watched by our children.

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    [-] Rob

    Work with school districts across the province and connect the museum experience (contents and programming) to BC’s redesigned curriculum. Create an on line presence that has the ability to offer virtual tours of the museum; narrated exhibits, story telling, digital presentations, etc. Look at developing partnerships with the tech industry to assist with engagement, Indigenous communities (through the lens of Reconciliation), and other museums.

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    [-] tom

    Some ideas. Perhaps the RBCM can work with BC museums, historical societies, etc to display more of its holdings. For example, maybe for two weeks or just a weekend the RBCM allows artifacts it owns on a certain subject to be displayed as a special exhibit at some BC museum or historical society I’m not talking about expensive artifacts but if there are artifacts sitting in the museum’s storage and no one sees them it doesn’t do much good for the BC people. Volunteers can help insure the artifacts safety.

    Many museums have a movie room (Not a big IMAX) where visitors can first go to view a short 10-15 minute movie on the subject of the museum. One can be created on British Columbia. Its history, geology, its people, environment, etc.

    There are many old photos of BC at the BC Archives no one knows about where a Then and Now exhibit can be made. Perhaps a few monitors in the RBCM where a visitor types in their BC city and old historic photos from the BC Archives for that city are displayed and they slowly transitions to a photo of the same place today. Volunteers can take the today photos.

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    [-] Deia

    Greatly increasing the online presence, particularly the resources available and number of exhibits/artifacts available for viewing online, would make the museum so much more accessible. The 100 Objects is a really neat idea and I would love to see more of that, as with the Bamboo Shoots project. Virtual walk-throughs can only do so much; I would like to see 3 dimensional artifacts online and made available for inquirious studies.

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    [-] India

    Ideas include:
    -an annual temporary exhibit (like the nature photo exhibit) that highlights a different BC community each year, or a BC history, or a BC hot topic (like mining, salmon farms, urbanization)
    -a digital platform, where BC communities can post images (it could read like Instagram, with locations tagged) that address important BC topics like, education, jobs, health and wellness, community events, art openings, etc. BC residents could potentially also submit topic ideas to the platform.
    -the museum could bring small pop-up exhibitions out to communities. Hosted in public spaces throughout BC, curators could bring very small shows (10 physical works, or a selection of images from the archives) out to communities for two week viewings, so that communities that can’t get to the museum still get to learn about the BC histories it holds.

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    [-] Tom

    Currently, a family of four has to pay $56 to visit the museum. For people on low or even average incomes this can be a barrier. It’s also a challenge for people outside of Victoria. For them, a visit to the RBCM might be a one off experience.
    Fortunately, technology can fill this gap and provide online content that encourages interaction. As much as possible, the collection needs to be online, not just a list but what the objects represent and their significance. An example of this is Museums Victoria in Australia https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/collections
    Videos can also be posted explaining the research and showing various aspects of the collections.
    Beyond this, there needs to be strong collaboration with local museums throughout B.C.. With hundreds of skilled museum volunteers throughout the province perhaps an exchange program might be instigated where volunteers can spend a few days or a week experiencing a museum in a different city or town. Volunteers would cover their own travel then stay with a host. I also feel there should be a liberal use of free museum passes for school kids (include their family) as prizes or incentives (with no expiry date). If the goal is to get more people in and learning just go on any of the free days and see how many people show up.

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    [-] Walt

    To engage communities start involving them in the design, planning and building phase. Communities should include a diverse interpretation: geographical, cultural, age, industry, education, etc.
    Get Students in BC post secondary bc institutions to develop designs as part of their masters program, engineering students, architecture students, law, business – virtually any discipline can, should participate – partnering with industry expertise from B.C. professional associations. Compete best plans, design, logistics etc with expert panels adjudicating.
    Use BC wood on a large, public space scale: the shape, materials design are both art and function, interactive…make it unique in the world. A mega wooden public space structure engineered for fire safety, earthquake resilience – not sure if that exists anywhere in the world. Partner with industry and the above mentioned designs and planning etc to deliver a B.C. forested log to each school and interested community, community association, ( interested companies could buy/ donate/sponsor logs…). Partner BC elders, carvers, artists with students in age / skill appropriate activities to transform each log into a piece of art that is a part of the public space/building puzzle. The carved or cut ‘wood waste’ could be a take home reminder for each child of their contribution to the museum physical structure. This should be on a scale (reduced to site constraint ) similar to the Gaudi park in Barcelona. A public museum where the museum was created through public input and skill and is itself a manifestation of B.C. history, traditions, diversity, natural resources and ingenuity. Like another comment stated – the entrance feels like an airport, hotel; another comment recalled memories of interacting with the carved poles outside – perhaps combining these ideas for affordable scale and impact

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    [-] Jacqueline

    I think the museum could collaborate with research, in particular with research pertaining to species and ecological communities at risk. The ability for scientists to efficiently store specimens and search the collections is extremely important.

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    [-] John

    Share the artifacts. Create a web of collaboration with all the museums in BC. Create a centralized database with standardized nomenclature (AND images), so when any wants to do an exhibit of a specific subject, they’ll know which museums to contact to create short-term loan agreements. Wow, coordination! Suddenly there is an opportunity for a traveling exhibit, with local pride they contributed. Image working with Corrections BC with their impressive collection of Oakalla, BC Pen (I have a tower key). Wait! You could actually tap into a GOLD MINE of Collectors who likely have more valuable items than any museum, and probably know more than your own archivists.

    ERROR: Identity (below) is not optional when only a YES NO answer.

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    [-] Klimaszewski

    The sky is the limit. I will list only a few but this is only a small fragment of a true potential. I will focus only on biological aspect of the museum.
    1. Involve native people in biological surveys on their lands and educate them in methodology of doing biological research.
    2. Show young people how research is done in natural history areas at the museums.
    3. Encourage people to do research at the museum and sponsor them.
    4. Involve interested people in design and production of new displays.
    5. Show how new books are generated.
    6. Let people “touch” on going works at the museum, and encourage building their creativity.

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    [-] Susan

    I think there are lots of opportunities to share knowledge with communities that may be struggling to do the kind of work that RBCM has lots of experience in and have potentially lots of people on the ground who would like to participate in some kind of community project – whether it be cataloguing historical documents or collecting, identifying and preserving plants or insects – but don’t have the expertise. RBCM staff could offer assistance via online platforms like Zoom and Skype as well as internships and training sessions in Victoria for interested participants. Maybe you could call on your members to help with billeting people in our very expensive city and other supports.

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    [-] Jacqueline

    Invite the public to share their memories or collections of photographs and local histories. These could be displayed online. The Archives had a volunteer project where citizen volunteers transcribed correspondence from WWI and the same idea could be used for this. This has the effect of involving communities in their own history and making people feel part of the display. I’m sure many families have stories of how they came to BC (I know I have). It would be good, especially for the young, to know when, how and why their families arrived here.

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    [-] Christina

    1.Make better use of online , interactive and social media platforms. Communicate and learn to engage better on twitter – I have commented a couple of times on the RBCM twitter account and received zero response. It looks like “one-way” traffic.
    2. Introduce Free entry days.
    3. More workshops

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    [-] Hume

    One key component would be asking communities (indiginous and otherwise) to participate in biodiversity surveys. British Columbians are passionate about BC nature. Involving local British Columbians in surveys will allow local knowledge to help the survey and will help tie the results back to local communities.

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    [-] Rhiannon

    Digitization of collections and investing in making more of the collection available online – and seeing to better-than-good interface design and user-end navigation. Educators and students at every level, along with other G.L.A.M. programmers and partners, would be able to leverage the educational power of said access and build all kinds of goodness from the collection.
    I think there are also interesting opportunities to explore in terms of community-sourced knowledge by way of an open online submission portal where people can add local content (maps, stories, etc) which is cross-referenced by means of metadata with the existing collection online. This would be an interesting way to destabilize the historical authority of the Museum into more of a dialogue and bring a dynamic real-time aspect to the collection.

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    [-] D.

    Digitized collections – in my case, digitized insect collections – would be very helpful for biodiversity research and related work here in BC and elsewhere.

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    [-] Richelle

    Increase the amount of the museum’s holding available for viewing/research online. Work with communities via an online platform to produce exhibits using the online museum. Other major international museums have made a focus of having all their holdings online for research, etc. This increases the use of the museum and potential engagement. If you did this, nothing would stop teachers (K to 12) using your collecting to augment their classroom activities. This would possibly be invaluable.

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    [-] Andrea

    Productively? Good question. Perhaps look at developing a travel stipend for schools and/or low income families outside of the CRD to visit the museum on a regular basis.

    The Vancouver Aquarium comes to Victoria to bring programming to our region that we don’t have easy access to. Perhaps we could develop a similar program to hit the road around the whole province?

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    [-] Jason

    Small community archives and museums are struggling with preservation and presentation of their materials. Establish a program to assist communities in digital preservation and presentation of our shared history,

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    [-] MG

    I think there would be a good opportunity to partner with some tech companies to use new technology like virtual reality. The last time I was there we saw an old ocean exhibit with microscopes that didn’t work…maybe this is an opportunity for something immersive where kids could explore the ocean floor or be part of some recent history – say being a forest fire fighter in the Interior during wildfires, or near a rock slide or something where we added new technology to live the experience. I definitely think some collaboration with tech companies on what is possible could modernize the kid’s experience. The police museum in Calgary is one of the best examples of a modern museum.

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    [-] Katherine

    If the Royal BC Museum is to truly be British Columbia’s museum, I believe there should be travelling exhibits throughout BC. Many people in Central and Northern BC, while they have facilities (galleries… community halls… ) do not have access to resources for the incredible programming those in the Lower Mainland/Vancouver Island get to enjoy. I also believe making the current RBC Museum exhibits available to view online is particularly important for non-Victoria residents.

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