Nanaimo Museum is giving some of its seldomly seen treasures a chance to shine.
From the Vault, the museum’s first temporary exhibit of 2021, is an exhibit of rarely exhibited artifacts and photos that carry with them some compelling and surprising stories about Nanaimo’s people and history.
“Because of COVID we’ve had time to sit and reflect and look through our collection…” said Jordan Johns, exhibit technician. “Well, let’s look at the things that haven’t really been displayed much or have been hidden away for a while and we’ll do something along the lines of ‘From the Vault’, which started as a working title, which became also the title we ended up sticking with.”
Staff dug around in the museum’s stored artifacts to find items and parts of collections to help tell stories not seen in the museum every day, stories that haven’t been included in the museum’s permanent displays or stories that could inspire visitors to look at Nanaimo’s history from different perspectives.
The 12 displays within the exhibit cover history of different ethnic groups in Nanaimo, wartime internment, the 1918 flu pandemic, festivals and celebrations and other stories.
“The other thing that we’ve done with the idea of From the Vault is that all of the staff members chose three historic photos from our photo collection and explained a little reasoning why they wanted those photos,” Johns said. “Everybody’s selections are on the walls here and it’s interesting to see what inspired personal selections.”
Johns chose to set up a display about bathtub races that includes former Nanaimo mayor Frank Ney’s pirate costume because, Johns said he loves Bathtub Weekend, which Nanaimo hasn’t hosted since the COVID-19 pandemic started and wanted a way to celebrate it for 2021.
Becka Macdonald, museum communications coordinator, said From the Vault also offered an opportunity to work with community groups.
A new program, Lost from the Vault, gives museum-goers a chance to test their problem-solving skills to unravel the mystery of a missing artifact. The program is designed to be fun for all ages and participants will embark on a self-guided hunt to decode clues, break ciphers and solve the mystery.
From the Vault starts Thursday, June 3, and runs through fall 2021. Nanaimo Museum, located in the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is by donation.
For more information, visit www.nanaimomuseum.ca or call 250-753-1821.