What happens when museum volunteers go on a field trip? It becomes a “busman’s holiday” and they go to visit some other museums!
The Comox Air Force Museum, which is located at the entrance to the CFB Comox, is staffed almost totally by volunteers. On Wednesday, May 27, ten of these volunteers took a trip to Victoria to visit the Royal British Columbia Museum, stayed overnight and then visited the Sidney Aviation Museum on the 28th.
At the Royal BC Museum, the volunteers got a personal tour of the Fannin History collections, guided by curators Dr. Robert Griffin and Dr. Tzu-I Chung. The volunteers were able to learn how items that are donated and acquired by the museum are preserved and protected from moisture and general deterioration. They were also able to see the amazing collection of weaponry of all types that lies in the archives safely tucked away. It included every imaginable type of gun, rifle, and sword, and for security reasons, because many of the arms are still functional, this area is not open to the general public.
Among the items was a 16th Century Japanese knife that would have been used by a dishonoured soldier to disembowel himself. The cover of the knife had elaborate carved designs all over it with inlaid mother of pearl. This was just one of the many highlights of the tour.
The volunteers were also given a guided tour of the Gold Rush exhibit and then were able to roam freely throughout the museum. Many of the exhibits are interactive and make the history come alive.
On Thursday, the group met at the BC Aviation Museum by the airport and were given a personal tour by volunteers there. All types of airplanes are being restored, if not totally rebuilt by volunteers there and the back hangar was bustling with the sounds of saws and drills. Some of the aircraft are on loan to the museum for display by their owners. Everything from the tiniest helicopter to an original Trans-Canada Airlines airliner from the 1950’s are on display and in the process of being restored to their original state.
Randy Komar, the organizer for the trip, commented, “One of the reasons we decided to go was because a member suggested it would be something we could do as a group. To put together a group of dedicated volunteers was a pleasure. We wanted to experience what another larger museum was all about plus get a feeling for what another air museum was doing in their own way. I think we all had a good time and learned a bit more what it means to be part of a museum.”
“The vital role that volunteers play in keeping a museum going is two-fold. First is product knowledge, knowing key points that the museum is featuring, and second is being a good host. Helping the visitor to understand a bit of what you have to offer and making them feel welcome only enhances their experience and will keep bringing them back.”
Written & Submitted by Maggie & Randy Komar