Recent Pemberton Museum News

BC Museums Week Contested Histories

BC Museums Week: Day 4 Contested Histories

The theme chosen for 2017 is "Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums". 

The objective of International Museum Day is to raise awareness of the fact that, “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.”

The BC Museum's Association has posed the following questions to BC museums.

What are you doing to celebrate International Museum Day?  The Pemberton Museum is busy getting the site ready to open to the public on May 19th.  Our focus at this time of year is to open our doors so we can deliver on our mandate.  The historic houses and exhibits are cleaned and dressed for the summer season.  Bringing items out of storage to be put on exhibit is our happiest time of year!

What are contested histories in BC?  The First Nation perspective on settlement is likely the main topic of contested histories in BC, along with Japenese internment camps, the contribution of early Chinese Canadians, women's histories and other stories belonging to those whose voices have not been as strong in the historical record.

How does your museum present these contested histories?  The original board of the society, when forming the collection mandate, were explicit in stating that one of the collection themes for the Pemberton Museum is "Those Who Were Here First". The history book was sensitive to the concept of cultural appropriation even back in 1977, and the first chapter contains stories written "by and about Mount Currie people themselves".  The authors worked hard to gather stories and to interview elders for content in this chapter.  

Today the museum continues to request contributions of perspective from First Nation communities in the District and we have collaborated on new exhibit panels about traditional territory, travel and trade.  We have hosted presentations from Lil'wat Nation about traditional territory and regularly share information that is requested from the museum archives.  The museum stewards two historic First Nation homes, one from D'arcy (The Barney house which was built by Chief Eddy Thevarge) and one from Mt. Currie (The Sam Jim house).  There is also a Trapper's cabin (Chief John Andrew), a few dug out canoes and baskets and some archaeological items that were found by farmer's when ploughing fields. Today, the museum does not actively collect First Nation artifacts and we liaise with First Nation leaders on items that are offered to determine the outcome.

In terms of other contested histories, we strive to collect stories from all residents in our collecting region and encourage contributions that help to broaden our understanding of the perspective and experience of all residents in the District.