Vernon Museum will provide a look into the collection of objects and archives

Museum is Not Neutral

The Vernon Museum will be taking a look at itself and its artifacts as part of BC Culture Days.

The Greater Vernon Museum and Archives will host its third event as part of the Arts in Action Vernon Hub of BC Culture Days Oct. 14.

Not Neutral: Exploring Reconciliation in Museum Collections will provide a look into the collection of objects and archives at the museum, exploring questions of where items come from, who collects and donates them and why.

“We’ll also be asking more complicated questions, and investigating our own biases,” said Curator Laisha Rosnau. “Questions like: who decides what is of historical value; whose history is valued and whose voices are silenced or ignored?”

The Not Neutral event will invite visitors to take a closer look at some of the objects in the Vernon Museum collection as Rosnau, alongside registrar and digital archivist Marisa Parker-Hinz, reveals some of the mysteries and mistruths about what and how objects are collected.

“The Toward Truth & Reconciliation day of programming on Sept. 30 was very well-attended. There is so much interest in examining the truth about the darker chapters of our history,” said Rosnau

“The Syilx elders with whom the Vernon Museum have consulted have emphasized that the mistruths, untruths, and silences around the very real history of harm against Indigenous people needs to be addressed before reconciliation can begin.”

One of the truths, reveals Rosnau, is the Vernon Museum itself, began with a donation of taxidermy and Indigenous items and cultural resources.

“They were labelled as ‘curios’ at the time – and the truth is, we don’t know where each of the items came from, from which Nations, and if it is appropriate to either hold or display them.”

Rosnau and Parker-Hinz will examine how cultural resources and objects from Indigenous nations, as well as those from other cultural groups, have been collected and displayed.

"And we’ll ask questions about why museums across Canada, including this one, have been centred around the experiences of white European explorers, pioneers, and settlers to the exclusion of others,” said Rosnau. “We’re a small museum, trying to make big changes, starting from within.”

Like all events that are part of BC Culture Days, Not Neutral: Exploring Reconciliation in Museum Collections is by donation.

“Fifty per cent of our donations on Sept. 30 are being donated to the Indian Residential Survivor Society. Donations from the Not Neutral event will go toward our continued consultation with Syilx elders,” she said.

Not Neutral: Exploring Reconciliation in Museum Collections takes place on 7 p.m. Thursday at the museum, 3009 32nd Ave.

Pre-registration is not required for this event, but in compliance with Public Health Orders, vaccine passports will be checked at the door.

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