Some of the Alberni Valley Museum’s exhibits and records have been revamped thanks to the efforts of intern Aneil Richardson, of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Richardson, who hails from St. John’s—7,245 kilometres away on Canada’s east coast—applied to work in Port Alberni through a federal government grant. He spent four months in the Alberni Valley, working as a museum curatorial assistant.
In that four months, Richardson reviewed the museum’s collection, studied the database and began photographing and cataloguing items that had yet to be entered. He inspected displays, cleaned artifacts and the display cases, updated the display information and then gave some of the exhibits a fresh look by moving some of the artifacts around.
While at the museum he also researched several exhibits in order to enhance information.
“I enjoyed working with the archive staff at the historical society,” Richardson said. “They were very helpful with finding articles with my research.”
While Richardson was working as an intern, he came to the Alberni Valley Museum with experience. He was a volunteer with The Rooms museum in St. John’s where he spent time working on collections management. His undergrad at Memorial University of Newfoundland is in archeology and psychology, and he completed a Masters of Paleo-anthropology at the University of Liverpool in England.
“It’s been quite a while since the cases have been looked at from a curatorial point of view,” said Shelley Harding, acting manager at the Alberni Valley Museum. “We were looking at things that hadn’t been photographed.”
With Richardson’s assistance the museum was able to assess what extra items needed to be catalogued, as well as update catalogue records and digitize catalogue forms. “It was a chance to clean the cases and rearrange things,” she added.
“He has done an amazing job and an incredible amount of work. He handled more than 1,000 artifacts in four months,” out of a total of 5,100 artifacts in the museum.
The museum has not had an intern under the Young Canada Works: Building Careers in Heritage program for a number of years, Harding added.
Richardson returned to St. John’s in early December, but said he wished he had had more time to learn about a number of exhibits in the museum—especially John Halfyard’s folk dolls and craftsman Peter Szachiv’s exhibit.
“I am interested in First Nations culture as well as Slavic and Eastern European cultures,” he said. “I did some historical research on the basket-weaving tradition on the West Coast and Vancouver Island, which is now recognized to be an event of historic significance for Canada.”