Learning, Connection and Fun

Building a Mini-Exhibit: A Summer Student Perspective by Alec Postlethwaite

Posted on: August 8th, 2018 by Anna Irwin

During my time with the Chilliwack Museum and Archives I was tasked with creating a miniature exhibit for the archive’s reading room, a project which proved to be one of the most challenging projects I have taken on as a summer student.

Topic choice was the first challenge I needed to overcome. With Chilliwack’s history offering a diverse range of topics, it was difficult finding one that was both intriguing and able to be displayed in one display case.

Chilliwack Museum and Archives, 1997.021.002

Narrowing down topic choice was a long process.While I found lots of engaging stories, events, and timelines, I was always faced with the question of “Will other people find this interesting?”. Luckily, a few seemed like they would.

One of these topics was the logging of roads in the 1890s, which would become the roads Chilliwack still uses today. After a few afternoons of research, however, I realised that while there was enough information to know logging had happened, the amount of information I was able to find was not enough to mount a mini-exhibit.

I chose to find a new topic. After a few more hours researching and a following a few new ideas, I found the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers (PCMR). Digging through the archives, I managed to find plenty of useful information in a few short hours, including news articles, archival material, and artifacts. It appeared the only work left was to make some labels and put it all in a case.

Chilliwack and Archives, PP503985

At this point, I was faced again with the small size of the display case. While the case is large, it could not accommodate all of the material I had uncovered. After an editing process and considering space restrictions, I decided to narrow the topic to an exploration of the PCMR through a social lens. Scaling down the topic allowed for the topic to become more manageable and while allowing the amount of material to remain workable.  The result of this was an interpretation and a story local to Chilliwack.

I now had to make my interpretation accessible to a number of age groups. This meant taking my own thoughts  and trying to explain for demographics of all ages, which was the most difficult part of the project. This was because I needed to both keep my original message and make it accessible to younger age groups.

Overall, I am grateful that I had the chance to make this exhibit. The challenges I was faced with have better prepared me for the goals I hope to accomplish in my professional life and I will be pleased to carry them with me.

The exhibit is scheduled to open August 17, 2018.