By Brianna Shambrook
The Sooke Region Museum has updated 14 permanent exhibits since 2012. Some of these exhibits needed minor refreshing, others had complete makeovers or moved location.
The museum has several goals when updating exhibits. Some of these goals include updating caption quality and information, modernizing the presentation and adding innovative elements such as new technology and hands-on activities.
Additionally, updating exhibits allows us to assess the condition of artifacts displayed long-term. In some cases, artifacts needed considerable cleaning or have become faded due to light exposure; updating exhibits give us an opportunity to care for these artifacts.
During these renovations we aimed to make the order of our exhibits more chronological. The entrance to the exhibits now focuses on geography, natural history and First Nations. Next, we added a display on the exploration and discovery of this region followed by our overhauled pioneer exhibit.
Previously, we had two different pioneer exhibits in separate locations. We joined the two exhibits and made substantial upgrades to the presentation. Our exhibit tech, Jason Arthurs, expertly designed and built cases and mounts for our artifacts that once belonged to founding families such as the Muirs and the Gordons. For example, he designed a wood and Plexiglass case to house a bayonet sword that belonged to Sooke’s, and B.C.’s, first immigrant settler, Capt. Walter Colquhoun Grant; Grant gifted this sword to John Muir. This artifact is unique in that it belonged to two of Sooke’s first settlers, thus building a case that protected the sword while also allowing visitors to take a close look was important.
Another upgrade we made to the pioneer exhibit was freshening up the wall of photographs featuring pioneer men and women. Since we were combining two exhibits into one, wall space was limited. We trimmed the worn edges on every photograph and updated captions. Trimming the photographs was the key to making them fit in a smaller space; this also made the photographs look cleaner and less worn (displayed for a couple decades). One element that went unchanged was our diorama featuring the location of pioneering homesteads.
Exhibits that we are still working on include Sooke churches, Sooke schools, the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, sealing, archaeology and natural history. If you would like to donate any objects or archival material pertaining to these topics, please contact the museum at 250-642-6351.
Brianna Shambrook is the collections and exhibits manager at Sooke Region Museum.