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Royal BC Museum launches online collection connecting the world to “100 Objects of Interest” from BC
From more than seven million objects in the Royal BC Museum’s galleries, archival stacks and workrooms behind the scenes, curators, archivists and other expert staff have selected some of the most fascinating (and often seldom-seen) objects – what they are calling the “100 Objects of Interest”.
Starting today, these artifacts, specimens, archival records and works of art will be featured on the 100 Objects of Interest website, http://royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/100/. The website features a photo of each object and a brief description of its significance. The objects will rotate over time, as new items are uploaded to the site.
“Using technology to inspire and stimulate international research into our collections will strengthen our knowledge of them and open up new opportunities for collaboration,” said Prof. Jack Lohman, CEO of the Royal BC Museum. “Our focus on innovative digital projects like this is one reason we are so pleased to welcome Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, Head of Diversity at Google, to our Board of Directors.”
The Royal BC Museum is embarking upon a number of web initiatives that allow greater access and interaction with the full scale of its collections, including the digitization of First World War diary entries and letters home by British Columbian soldiers to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Great War.
Some of the 100 Objects of Interest are well-known and hugely popular, such as John Lennon’s famous yellow psychedelic Rolls Royce Phantom V Touring Limousine, which wowed crowds at Expo 86. Some objects, like the Ground Mantid insect, are tiny and almost impossible to see in their home environment – in this case, the sandy grasslands in the extreme southern Okanagan Valley, a threatened and disappearing ecosystem. Many of the objects are never on public display.
Regardless of size or fame, each object has a compelling story and special connection to a place in British Columbia or period in our history. But not all of the 100 objects have entirely positive stories, noted Lohman.
Some reflect the pains of our provincial history, like the silk kimono originally owned by a Japanese-Canadian woman interned during the Second World War. Other objects, like the Humboldt Squid, were selected because its recent presence on local shores hints at the repercussions of climate change and the fluid nature of what comprises “British Columbian” fauna.
But other objects were chosen because they represent and celebrate British Columbia’s complex history, natural abundance or rich cultural heritage; in fact, several works of Emily Carr in this collection satisfy all three criteria. From “Kispiox Village (1912) to “Sombreness Sunlit” (1938-1940), viewers can see how Carr’s preoccupation with First Nations life and the spiritual power of the West Coast forest never wavered, even as her technical skills and painting style evolved.
“While some people will be intimately familiar with the works of Emily Carr within the Royal BC Museum, others will be astounded by the range and sheer number of her works in our care,” said Don Bourdon, the Royal BC Museum’s Curator of Images and Paintings. “It is our duty to reach new audiences and share Carr’s works of art and writings through online exhibits.”
In recognition of the immense cultural, political and historical impact of First Nations peoples on British Columbia, 24 of the objects are First Nations artifacts or artwork, both ceremonial and contemporary. One object sheds light on a surprising interaction in British Columbia history from a First Nation’s perspective: the Tla-o-qui-aht mask, attributed to a carver named Atlieu, capturing in stark, startled detail the surprise of a white man’s face upon learning of the extent of a chief’s territories.
The shortlist of 100 was made subjectively, but each object speaks to the living landscapes and cultures of British Columbia. Seen collectively, they represent British Columbia’s range of ecosystems and climate, the province’s astonishing abundance of flora and fauna and the complex histories of the people who have settled here over millennia, sometimes clashing but working towards peaceful coexistence.
The development of the online collection was supported by the Francis Kermode Group, patrons who advance the work of the Royal BC Museum.
Report courtesy of Royal BC Museum.