Curators, conservators, archivists and other museum collaborators selected these 100 objects of interest from among the more than 7 million objects in the museum’s galleries and archives based on their fascinating character and rarity, and the fact that they are seldom seen by the public.
Since the project went online, these objects, specimens, prints and archived documents are featured on a dedicated website entitled 100 Objects of Interest. The website features an image of each object accompanied by a brief description. The list of objects will be subject to change at the museum staff’s discretion or as new acquisitions become available.
The 100 objects featured online reflect the wide range and diversity of the 7 million objects in the Royal BC Museum’s collection and include, most notably, John Lennon’s psychedelic yellow Rolls-Royce, a red, white and blue tunic from the Tahltan First Nation, paintings by Emily Carr and E.J. Hughes, sculptures by Charles Edenshaw and Bill Reid, a picture of an insect so small that it can barely be seen by a museum visitor, leather cowboy chaps, Gold Rush-era photographs, the first marriage license to be issued in the province, Nurse Maclean Goes West, a 1959 Harlequin romance that was set in Victoria, and a collection of songs recorded by Ida Halpern between 1939 and 1987.
The eclectic mix is intentional
“People are still very much unaware of what we look after” said Royal BC Museum CEO Jack Lohman. “People still associate us just with the mammoth (replica). And the mammoth is the sort of calling card, but we’re really trying to broaden that out and say what is inside here — there are other really great treasures.”
Lohman is particularly fond of the musical recording: “That is, I think, the future star of the museum. Somehow we’ve got to put this on UNESCO‘s world list of objects. There is no other such collection in the world. It is absolutely unique.”
The 100 objects can be sorted by date of creation, object type, collection and theme. The images cannot be downloaded. The images are accompanied by a profile of the museum collaborator who selected the object.
One of the latest digital innovations
The new tool is designed not only to enable both visitors and the public to engage with the collection but also to raise awareness internationally about the museum and its collection.
“This museum really deserves to be better known internationally,” said Lohman, whose previous job was at the Museum of London in England. “It’s part of building an international reputation, and giving us a sort of credibility being a museum of substance, rather than just entertainment. Using technology to inspire and stimulate international research into our collections will strengthen our knowledge of them and open up new opportunities for collaboration.”
Lohman hopes to move the “museum’s digital awareness to a real top-end.” With this goal in mind, the museum joined the Google Art Project this year, and has mounted 81 artifacts from its collection onto the Google Art website. Moreover, Google’s head of diversity, Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, was recently made a member of the Royal BC Museum’s Board of Directors.
The Royal BC Museum hopes to continue to “highlight innovative digital projects.” The institution has therefore launched several online initiatives designed to increase public access and interaction with its collections. One example is the digitization of the personal letters and diaries of soldiers from British Columbia to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.