Top: a view of the Sooke Region Museum's textile collection. Bottom: The new rolling shelves in the museum's archives.

Curator’s Corner: Spring cleaning and upcoming projects

A look at what's in store for the museum-going, history-obsessed Sookite.

2015 will see a number of new and exciting projects at the Sooke Region Museum. This year sees new exhibits, renovations, inventories, and the return of some of our most popular events and programs.

Spring Exhibit

On Saturday, March 28, a spring art show opened in the museum’s upstairs gallery. The show, called ARTiFACTS, is coordinated by Linda Gordon and has over 40 pieces on display. All of the art is representative of the Sooke region and includes paintings, photographs, sculpture, textiles and multi-media. The show will run until Sunday, May 30, and is open during the museum’s regular hours (Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). On Wednesday, April 1,  this exhibit will be featured on Shaw TV’s “Go Island” on channel 4. It will be shown at 6 p.m. and repeated a few times throughout the evening. It will also be aired on Friday April 3 during the day until 6 p.m.

Summer Exhibit

For this year’s summer exhibit we will be utilizing our textile collection for a display on fashion. The exhibit is called Fashion Files: Dressing Sooke and will explore fashion throughout the 1900s with a focus on the style, stories and experiences of Sooke residents.

In addition to utilizing our own collection, we are looking to residents of the Sooke region for object loans. We are looking for unique textiles and accessories that are in good condition. Examples of things we hope to get are uniforms, gowns, day and evening wear, shoes, jewelry, and makeup containers. Items from the early 1900s are ideal. As for technical objects we are seeking dress forms, mannequins and plinths with lids taller than 32 inches. We particularly need children’s clothing and display forms or mannequins. Our interactive component will be a dress up station for photo-ops using our costume collection. We are in need of boy and girl children’s costumes for this activity.

The exhibit will be opening at our annual open house and salmon barbeque on Sunday June 28 and will run until Sunday September 20. Additionally, there is an essay competition, themed around fashion, taking place in Sooke schools. Teachers will be giving out information to students shortly. Winners of the competition will be announced at the open house during the exhibit’s grand reveal.

Fall Exhibit

In October the museum will be opening an exhibit on the life work of sculptor Jan Johnson. Johnson, who spent much of his life working and living internationally, used whimsy and irony when approaching themes of the human condition and mythology in his metal works. Johnson’s wife, Mary Alice, and I will be working together to bring this exhibit to life.

Other Exhibits

From July 11 to 18 the Pacific Jamboree for Boy Scouts is coming to Camp Barnard. In honour of this, the museum will be showcasing a few Boy Scout artifacts from our collection during that week. The museum is also working towards finishing up our newly renovated exhibits on the churches and schools in Sooke. Another exhibit project we are undertaking is renovating the display case that holds our basketry exhibit. We will be making the entrance to the exhibit more easily accessible for staff. At the same time, we will be adding more baskets and First Nations artifacts to refresh the display.

Archives

One of the biggest projects we will be undertaking is an inventory and reorganization of our archive collection. This will help extend the useable life of our archive material and make it more accessible to staff. This inventory will make it possible for us to digitize our collection and eventually make a portion of it accessible online.

This will be a very technical, labour intensive and detail orientated mission. So far, we have bought and installed new rolling shelves in our archive space. We’ve also built a heat box for treatment. For conservation and preservation purposes, all materials will be treated via the heat box or one of our deep freezers to reduce possible insect damage.

Our next step is developing a system for our collections team to efficiently collect and input data and process and inventory all of the archival material. This project will include inventorying our collection of over 8,000 photographs. We estimate that this entire project will take a few years to complete. We are looking for volunteers who have archival training and experience to aid us in this undertaking.

Programs and Events

A reminder that the Sooke Night Market will be starting up again on June 4 and run until Sept. 3. The market will be every Thursday throughout the summer and will feature local artists, crafts, products, food and entertainment. Vendors can get applications from our website or at the museum. School tours at the museum are also about to begin again. Tours are available by appointment only between April 15 and June 19.

Contact Brianna Shambrook with any questions about what’s happening at the Museum at 250-642-6351.