The museum also contains traditional displays of well-lit pieces out in the open, or in display cases, however most of the smaller artifacts are at first invisible to the eye. That’s because they are in the “Visible Storage.” These “Visible Storage” units are essentially a series of chests with sliding drawers. In each drawer is a collection of artifacts of similar provenance. One drawer might contain pipes used by the Kwakwaka'wakw people, another, shoes worn by the Haida. Unlike so many museums I have been to in the past, the
My girlfriend and I chose which drawers to open based on how unlikely we thought it was that the average person would choose that drawer. We looked at quite a few of the drawers close to the floor, in an attempt to get a less traveled tour of the collection. As a researcher, I don’t think I could have asked for more in terms of accessibility. The concept of open stacks so familiar to goers of libraries has been brought into the world of material culture by this museum. An open stack archive, that both protects and provides the option of browsing.
I have become accustomed to expecting upwards of 90% of a museum collection to be hidden in some underground vault, for lack of display space. It was so refreshing to see it all out there at the
Kudos to the
Artwork is by Bill Reid. Photograph by Adam Crymble.