Building on award-winning community partnership projects such as the Chinese Canadian Legacy Project and Punjabi Canadian Legacy Project (2011–2019), my current research at the Royal BC Museum aims to extend and experiment with practices to co-explore the heritages of the diverse peoples in the province, focusing on immigrant communities that have until recently been underrepresentedᶦ in museums, galleries and academia.
This research supports the kind of paradigm shift recognized by the 2015 UNESCO Recommendationᶦᶦ, which identifies the protection and promotion of cultural diversity as a major 21st-century challenge. Our short-term goals include the co-exploration and preservation of the histories and their complexities with different cultural groups. This work is carried out through consultations, workshops and interviews. The longer-term goal is the transition of interpretive authority from the museum to the communities, refocusing the museum as a space and facilitator for intercultural dialogues, cultural transmission, diverse forms of learning and social cohesion. This work requires ongoing research and innovation to imagine new museum practices.
This ongoing research project informs outputs in the museum work of collections, learning (on-site, off-site and online K-12 educational tools and general public programming), and exhibitions. The completed work can be found at this webpage.
Moving forward, this research project will focus on three major areas:
- Future core gallery development through experimental small-scale prototyping of sharing stories
- Intercultural community history collection, preservation and sharing through community work
- K-12 curriculum learning tools, public educational materials and programming on BC’s tangible and intangible community heritages.
ᶦThe prioritization of underrepresented groups to be worked with is based on the consideration of the following factors (not in the order of importance): 1) the group’s population in BC and Canada; 2) the degree to which BC and Canada’s political and social contexts have informed the group’s collective experiences; 3) the degree to which the group’s self-identified cultural and immigrant history has been absent in heritage institutions in BC and Canada; 4) the degree to which the group is at risk of racial profiling and discrimination in the current national and international contexts; and 5) whether the group decides to work with us after initial communications about preserving and sharing their collective history with our museum and archives. The list of groups to work with is in development as we continue the outreach and consultation with communities and stakeholders. In the present year, the outreach is focused on BC refugee communities who arrived in the 1970s and 1980s.
ᶦᶦ “Unesco Recommendation Concerning the Protection and Promotion of Museums and Collections, Their Diversity and Their Role in Society,” November 17, 2015.