BC MUSEUMS WEEK invited all of us to have important conversations about museums, particularly about our Museum. Why are museums important? How is our Museum of value to one of our volunteers? How has our Museum had meaning for our visitors? What do museums mean to one of our website readers? What makes a good museum? We invited you to share your thoughts and many of you did!
** A museum is not just a collection of “old stuff”.
Hours of research is done to investigate each museum piece to be able to describe its significance. Then each piece is placed in the perfect position to enhance the overall story which is yearning to be told. Each piece is not only unique in its own right, but is also part of the bigger picture which brings the whole story alive. To be able to read and know the story and then look upon an actual piece of that story brings not only the piece to life, but also the story of what has been.
To walk through and enjoy being surrounded by bits of history is like a treasure hunt…and there is a jewel around every corner.
** Our museum is of value to one of our volunteers.
My love of the military began in the early 1970s, when I left home with my new husband, a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Through many postings in Canada, the US, and Germany, I had an opportunity to work with DND and get to know the Royal Canadian Air Force in a much deeper way. There was a saying . .
If you are a person who can’t follow rules, you likely won’t make it in the military. Turns out, I was a person who enjoyed those rules.
When we both retired from the military and the Public Service and settled down in the Comox Valley, my spouse took to golfing while I took up my ‘post’ in the library of the Comox Air Force Museum. It seemed I had found my forever job; the job I wish I had found when I was 35 and beginning a career. Now as a volunteer librarian, the old military rules all came back. Many research requests begin with . . . my father was in the military and I can’t find any information on him. Turns out that the rules on Privacy make it very difficult for researchers, unless you come across a collection of published names and trades – then the information is free for the viewing.
Once I became at ease with the new surroundings of a library and the requests that were coming in, I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else. The comradery of the museum brings us back on every chance we get. Whether it is a call for volunteers to help with a guided tour, parking guide on yard sale day, the birthday of a fellow volunteer, or a potluck lunch following an information session, we just keep coming back. This is my twenty-seventh year as a volunteer, and I can’t imagine a time when I won’t be a volunteer at the museum. There is always so much more to learn and new visitors to meet!
** Our museum has meaning for our visitors. Our visitors find personal connections. Our museum educates our visitors. Our visitors find our museum is fun. Yes, indeed, our museum has value!
“I liked seeing my Dad in a photo in the museum.”
“16th trip and still enjoying the tour.”
“The two volunteers were terrific in helping me find information on my grandfather who crashed his biplane in 1938 near Fort St. James, B.C.”
“Rose liked the Pipe Major. She does Highland dancing.”
“Very informative, love that it’s B.C. focused.”
“Kids had a blast looking at the planes and learning.”
“OMG! Superfun, loved the flight simulator.”
“Wonderful experience, amazingly curated. Thank You.”
“Brilliant – very friendly and informative.”
“Fabulous – Keeps getting better.”
“Daughter was gliding instructor, Dad flew Avro Arrow.”
“Amazing displays. The kids had fun and were very impressed.”
“Watched Spitfire Fly-by – Fabulous.”
“Fantastic place full of history and great volunteers.”
“The crash button alarm was fun.”
“This is a brilliant and well presented museum. Very impressive.”
~ COMPILED BY BILL, A VOLUNTEER
** Museums are more than just places to display artifacts.
Museums are more than just places to display artifacts. Good ones should also arouse our interest in wanting to learn more.For myself it is also a place to meet visitors from around the world, to showcase to them something of the history and achievements of the RCAF. When I see them leaving with a smile and compliments I know that for all of the work done, it has been – Mission Accomplished.
** Museums transport us. Museums invite us to contribute.
The best way to explain what a museum makes me feel is that it gives me the feeling of living in a different space or a different time. The first museum I went into (I was not very old) was in an old library that had been converted into a museum at Main and Hastings in Vancouver. It had armour on the walls, shields and knights in armour; in an old office, there was a mummy in a case and all kinds of other marvellous things. I haven’t forgotten that first experience in all these years. Over the years, I have been able to go into several other museums; you get to know what it’s like to travel in time, from dinosaurs to ancient crowns and armour or maybe an old car or truck museum for those of us who like transportation history.
But here in the Comox Valley we are fortunate to have a Royal Canadian Air Force Museum dedicated to history of the Canadian Air Force with our connection to the West Coast and across Canada. Just to know the history of the building even before you walk in the front door. It dates back to the early 1940s as a theatre and now instead of movies we are able to show people the history of our Air Force and all of things past and present, as well as those who have made a contribution to our country.
As a volunteer, I see on a regular basis people coming in and looking for history of a family member who has served in the RCAF; that is how my wife and I started our time as volunteers. Little did I know that my experience from outside the armed services would be able to help renew old stories and make some new ones. This museum is also a very welcoming place; as soon as you enter the door there is someone there to greet you give you information letting you know what is on exhibition anything that may be new as well.
** One of our website readers shares his thoughts on the importance of museums.
Museums make me reflect on the past and consider the future.
Museums make me appreciate the past.
Museums allow youth to understand what happened to the world before they were there to witness it.