Friday, February 25, 2011

"This is so much more than a box!"

Boxes, Storage and Segues

Our new addition is really coming along and each day we get a little bit closer to having more space for Chilliwack’s important collections. It is times, like these, that I think upon the staggering amount of packing and squirreling away of the collection while we wait in anticipation. The bubble wrap, tissue paper, storage boxes, places to put it all, etc.

Somehow it also reminds me of another time when in 2000 the British Columbia Museum’s Association co-hosted a conference with the Western Museum’s Association. Held at the Victoria Conference Centre one discussion stands out in particular, the amazing presentation made by Fred Wilson a conceptual artist whose discussion spoke of his work in partnership with museums. In a nutshell, Mr. Wilson challenges museums and their staff in their methods of interpretation and presentation. What are we really saying when we choose to bring together these ideas for public consumption?

However, returning to our current boxes and storage issues, and understanding that I love to segue, how does Mr. Wilson’s work relate to our current project? One example that Fred Wilson chose to highlight in his presentation was from a re-interpretation of exhibits at the highly acclaimed British Museum in London, England. In this fine setting Mr. Wilson discovered the original box used to transport the Rosetta Stone from Egypt to England thereby provoking a discussion of the removal of this type of object from its country of origin.

The Rosetta Stone, which is apparently the most visited object at the British Museum, has been on display since 1802 and in July 2003, on the 250th anniversary of the British Museum, Egypt first requested its repatriation. OK enough discussion, let’s add some personal thoughts and segues! Three things come to mind, apart from a discussion of the Rosetta Stone's repatriation.

Firstly that Mr. Wilson, in seeking powerful examples for his project, found this circa 1801 original storage box stored inside the British Museum. Amazing! Secondly, it reminds me of all those precious collections that come into the Museum and Archives in all styles of boxes and containers. We always check these thoroughly as at times these can be just as significant as the contents. Finally - that the British Museum is over 250 years old. Imagine! It reminds us that we, as museums and archives, collect all of these items not just for the present but for future generations. Maybe we do have a lot of material in storage, and perhaps it has not always been exhibited, but in the future, and specifically in 2207 the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society will be 250 years old! Amazing – Imagine!

"This is so much more than a box!"

The new addition to the Chilliwack Museum and Archives will house collections relating to 10,000 years of human history in this area. It will be ready in the "flashiest of flashes!"

Just for fun, visit this!