Whistler Museum and Archives to hold fund-raiser 

New $23,000 grant speeds up photo digitization project

What: Whistler Museum Fund-raiser

Where: Dubh Linn Gate, featuring the Bowen Boys

When: Thursday, June 20

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but what are 400,000 pictures worth?

A whole lot of stories, from start to finish, being processed currently at the Whistler Museum and Archives.

A recent $23,000 grant from the B.C. Digital Collections Program, part of a two-year, $700,000 initiative to make assistance available to non-profit museums and galleries, is good news for its photo archives project.

The donation from the provincial program shifts the ongoing digitization of all hard copy photos into high gear.

"The museum is an eclectic mix, and a strange collection in a lot of ways – we collect many things from the Whistler Valley that include photos from pioneer days, with sports and technology developments," says Pat Gemmill, archivist and curator.

But the museum also needs funds. The next fund-raiser, held at the Dubh Linn Gate, is part of an their goal of raising $10,000 per annum for operating expenses.

Compiling the photo archives is a major focus currently for the museum.

The project is part of their continuing vision to establish a facility that documents the history of the Whistler Valley, and acts as a local visual resource for both visitors and professionals.

The Whistler Question recently donated their photo collection to the museum. Funds from the Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation this past year also went towards the purchase of a digital video camera, which will be used in the project, as well as the recording of oral histories from members of the community.

In the past the foundation has also donated fireproof file cabinets to protect hard copy photos.

Gemmill, who took museum studies in Montreal before returning to his home province and starting work with the Whistler Museum in 2000, says they have not yet confirmed which photo database program will be used. He says students employed by the museum for the summer, through the HRDC Youth Employment Strategy initiative, will assist with the project.

Gemmill emphasizes that photo displays will be a large part of the museum, modelled after institutions like Banff’s Whyte Museum which currently houses the largest collection of Rocky Mountain photos in the B.C.-Alberta region.

Institutions like the Banff Centre are an example of ways in which the Whistler Museum can convey ideas of mountain culture.

Multimedia displays will also be a part of future displays, as will artefacts.

Some of these items include former Crazy Canuck Dave Murray’s ski racing memorabilia, courtesy of Stephanie Sloan, and items belonging to Myrtle Philip.

The museum has received assistance from the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), the Alpine Club of Canada, and the Archives Association of British Columbia.

In true Whistler fashion, sustainability projects and their influence upon the local area are also part of the larger program.

"We also want to bring groups like AWARE, the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship, and the Naturalists together, to show how ecosystems work together," adds Gemmill.

For more information about the Whistler Museum & Archives, or to volunteer time or donate items, call 604-932-2019.


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