Time are changing in the world of archival and artefact collections, and it’s definitely hard to keep up with the resulting backlog. This is a good problem to have, because it means the community trusts the museum to preserve its past. We have had a significant increase in the number and size of donations to the Whistler Museum and Archives over the past two years (thanks to those who donated!), and we hope we will continue to be on the minds of locals when older things are looking for a new home. We have a few theories as to what led to the increase of donations, the main one being that the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying lockdowns and business closures allowed some locals the time to do a bit of cleaning and clearing of their homes.
While the influx of donations is a particular challenge for us in terms of having enough storage space, it’s also very exciting for the Collections Department here, as there have been items donated on more varied subjects, which can help us fill gaps in our collections. For instance, we have welcomed more documents on the origins of Blackcomb Mountain, more artefacts and photographs relating to the history of snowboarding in the area, a large collection of Whistler Pride documents and artefacts, and even some of the COVID-19 signs which were put up in Whistler Village during 2020. It is very important to us that our collections reflect the community we serve, and this can be a difficult task at times due to donations being a voluntary and charitable act. We always encourage donations, and for locals to remind others that donating items to the Whistler Museum is a much-appreciated option before sending older items and documents to the trash.
It’s not just our own collections at the museum that are changing, but also the types of media being donated to archives in general. Photographs, videos, and documents that were born in a digital environment are now being donated to archives, and we are no exception here. USB sticks, hard drives, and .jpg files have been donated to the Whistler Museum and Archives this year, heralding the Age of Information which will surely make the process of archiving more complex over time. If a donor were to donate the entire contents of their email account, it would make for some very grueling description work for entering into the archival catalogue, which connects researchers to our collections, and this is just one part of that growing complexity for archivists. In this day and age, data, photos, and files are being created at ever-increasing speeds as technology smooths the path. While this may help future generations learn about ours due to the wealth of evidence we’ve created, it also makes it very difficult to weed through our data to decide what is of value and worth keeping. Endless information is only useful if it is mapped in some way to allow us to access the information that is meaningful to us.
For the time being, the Whistler Museum and Archives has still been able to keep up with the amount of born-digital donations, but the future of preserving the history of Whistler through digital means may become more complicated in the coming decades!
The Whistler Museum & Archives is conducting a donation drive in order to collect posters, signs, photographs, videos, records, and objects documenting the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions.
All who spent the past few months of the pandemic in Whistler are encouraged to donate any materials relating to COVID-19 and changes made during this time to the Whistler Museum & Archives in an effort to document this time in Whistler’s history. This donation drive is an effort to collect items such as signs and posters listing restrictions or closures placed in local businesses and public spaces, photographs and videos of the effects of COVID-19 measures, written or visual accounts of individual pandemic experiences, or other items related to social distancing, self-isolation, and quarantine. The Whistler Museum’s goal is to piece together an accurate representation of Whistler’s experience during the pandemic for the sake of the community’s historical record.
The Whistler Museum & Archives Society has been collecting artefacts and archival materials related to the history of the Alta Lake and Whistler area since it was first formed in 1988. Whistler Museum Collection.
While the Whistler Museum & Archives has always encouraged donations of historical items local to Whistler or demonstrating mountain culture, this COVID-19 donation drive will be larger in scale and specific to pandemic-related items. Items donated will be added to the artefact and archival collections and preserved at the Whistler Museum & Archives. Access to items donated will be maintained through museum exhibits, reference services, and digitization projects.
“This COVID-19 donation drive is important – the Whistler Museum & Archives is collecting these items so we can share the legacy of these historic times in Whistler with each other and with future generations,” says Alyssa Bruijns, Head Archivist & Collections Manager at the Whistler Museum & Archives.
The COVID-19 Donation Drive will bring in pandemic-related items and stories is order to preserve Whistler’s unique experience with COVID-19. Items for donation can be dropped off at the Whistler Museum & Archives between 11am and 5pm from Monday to Friday. All donations will be quarantined for 9 days before handling by museum staff.
For any questions or to learn more about the COVID-19 Donation Drive, please email Head Archivist & Collections Manager, Alyssa Bruijns, at archives @ whistlermuseum.org.
The Whistler Museum has made the difficult decision to close to the public until further notice. We continue to monitor the situation and follow the advisories of Vancouver Coastal Health and the Province of British Columbia. We thank everyone for their understanding and hope to see you all back at the museum soon.
We will be keeping up our online and social media presence, and will continue to work on behind-the-scenes and special projects, while observing social distancing and working from home whenever possible. Take care of yourself and each other.
In response to recent developments, the Whistler Museum has made the decision to postpone or cancel all upcoming events and programs until further notice. At this time, the Whistler Museum will remain open for our regular opening hours and is taking extra precautions for the wellbeing of visitors and staff, including increasing the frequency of cleaning and removing all touch tables and props from the exhibits. We will continue to update you to any changes in our hours.
If you have already purchased your tickets for Highways of the Past: Canoeing the Grand Canyon of the Liard, we will be happy to refund tickets at any time. We are working with our presenters to reschedule our March events for a later date.
We continue to monitor the situation and follow the advisories by Vancouver Coastal Health and the Province of British Columbia. We thank everyone for their understanding and hope to see you all back at the Whistler Museum soon.