When I joined the Royal British Columbia Museum in 2012, I had little idea of the diverse range of research being undertaken across the museum and archives, and more importantly, the diverse nature of disciplines and academic partners involved. A dedicated conference on current research was held at the Museum on September 16, 2013, bringing our collection managers, scientists, educators, curators, conservators and managers together to highlight for ourselves the importance of validating research as an essential tool to developing the future of the museum. It emerged during the research day just how much our research is valued by its users, from the government of Canada to international agencies.
Research at the museum is clearly enjoyable as well as rigorous and increasingly focused on public output. In many areas, especially in the preparation of new exhibitions and publications, research is already embedded into the museum framework. However, we all left the research day knowing there is much more for us to do, especially in taking our research out of the museum and getting the public to participate in it with us. And in looking to the future, we all agreed that research must have the collections we house as its primary focus.
In parallel, we have turned the telescope back on to our collections and to our current collection priorities. Critical to these is collecting the changing relationship between people and the landscape, environmental change and degradation. And we are short on biographical material covering the whole range of human occupation, phases of migration and evidence of early contact between First Nations and white settlers. Future collecting will focus more on political activism, objects relating to women and children and First Nations’ representations of non-First Nations people. BC has a strong history of celebration and anniversaries. As we move towards the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Confederation and BC’s entry into Confederation, future collecting will need to focus on how Canada was created in BC, the importance of its infrastructure such as transport and of course, sports in a broad theme of nation, society and people.
This inaugural issue of Curious is dedicated to our collections and the research that underpins our knowledge of them.
Prof. Jack Lohman, CBE
CEO of the Royal BC Museum