The Whistler Museum’s Collection Manager Alyssa Bruijns will be saying goodbye to Whistler and the museum (temporarily, we hope) at the end of this month. In her own words:
People arriving and people leaving – that’s one of the constants in Whistler.
In the past three years I’ve worked at the Whistler Museum, I’ve had countless friends leave, return, leave again and return as again. As a result, I’ve been to many going-away parties, but I did not expect to be attending my own so soon!
After a successful and enjoyable few years working at the Whistler Museum as the collections manager, I will be stepping down at the end of September. The time has come for me to adventure around the world a little more and finally visit the homeland of many Whistler residents – Australia.
Collections Manager Alyssa Bruijns at work in the archives.
I’ll admit my departure has been partly fuelled by the common Whistler fairytale – Canadian girl meets Australian boy with a visa ending all too soon. I can thank the community of Whistler for introducing me to so many friends and a wonderful significant other from across the pond. I will be back to the amazing town – it’s just a matter of when and for how long.
In the time that I’ve worked for the Whistler Museum, I’ve gotten to take part in many amazing projects. Just last Thursday, I had lots of fun planning our first “Naming Night” which saw the community come together to name places, people and events from photos lacking information in our catalogue.
Just one of the photographs whose subjects got named. All of the names and dates provided have now been added to our information in the archives. Photo: Whistler Question Collection, 1984
I was also privileged to take part in planning our first and second annual Mountain Bike Heritage Week. With the help of many student interns, I have overseen the cataloguing of vastly interesting collections – including Petersen, MacLaurin, Griffith and more – and the uploading of many collections to our online gallery. Completing a mass inventory of the collections was one of the larger tasks, which allowed me to get to know Whistler intimately through the archives and artefacts that have been donated since the museum’s opening year.
Just a few of the photos from the Whistler Question Collection that have been catalogued, scanned and are now on display.
There has been one project that I have been working on for my entire time at the Whistler Museum. When I was a bright-eyed summer student, just dipping my toes into the museum world, my task was to catalogue The Whistler Question negatives from 1978-1985.
Months later, when I returned as the collections manager, I honed my grant-writing skills in order to obtain funds to digitize those same photos. Once granted, I oversaw more than a year of scanning and eventual uploading of 35,000 photos to our online gallery (click here to take a look).
One of Alyssa’s favourite photos on display as part of The Whistler Question: A Photographic History, on at the museum through the end of November.
Finally, I co-curated The Whistler Question: A Photographic History, 1978-1985 exhibit, which features just over 200 of these photos. It was a roller coaster of a journey seeing these negatives go from boxes, to website, to our walls, but that journey has been massively rewarding.
The highlights of my time at the museum will definitely be the magnificent people I have worked with during my time here. I count my co-workers as friends and have been surrounded by a supportive contingent of board members and locals that always make me feel that my work is worthwhile and important.
A community’s historical collection needs this support and engagement from the community. I have heard comments from countless visitors to the museum that Whistler is a special place with a unique community, and I wholeheartedly agree.
Whistler’s celebration of its own past is necessary to understand what makes our town different and how we can maintain our uniqueness. I am confident my co-workers Bradley Nichols, Allyn Pringle and John Alexander will work hard to ensure Whistler’s past is not just remembered by the community, but actively consulted when making the tough decisions for the future of this town.
Museum staff, plus summer students and volunteers – we are few but mighty. Left to right: Lauren Smart, Allyn Pringle, Danielle Winkle, John Alexander, Sierra Wells, Alyssa Bruijns, Bradley Nichols.
I thank everyone who made my time here memorable, especially Bradley Nichols for taking a young archivist on board. Whistler, I’ll miss you dearly!