An early 20th century music box is on display at the Alberni Valley Museum. It is still in working condition, but because of the delicate hinges, the box is rarely opened. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Alberni Valley Museum offering close-up look at artifacts

Heritage Week event lets the public choose their favourite artifacts

If you’ve ever wanted to touch a museum artifact, the Alberni Valley Museum is offering a one-night chance.

The Alberni Valley Museum follows the same mandate as most other museums: preserve and present. But, said collections curator Kirsten Smith, those two things are sometimes at odds with each other.

Due to the delicate nature of many artifacts, lighting in the museum must be kept dim and artifacts must remain behind glass, untouched.

“Sometimes you want a bit more,” said Smith.

During Heritage Week in the Alberni Valley, the museum will be pulling artifacts from behind the glass and allowing the public to take a rare, up close look at them. Visitors will have a chance to view—and touch—artifacts up close for a free event on Thursday, Feb. 22.

As an added bonus, the museum will be letting members of the public choose which artifacts they want to take a closer look at.

Visitors might have a particular family piece they would like to see again, or they might like to take a look at a piece of artwork that is currently in storage. Visitors can also feel free to explore the museum and find an artifact on display that interests them. “We thought we’d let people pick,” said Smith.

Some artifacts are simply too delicate or too heavy to move, but curators will try their best to get you up close to the object of your choice.

“We won’t be going crazy,” Smith said. “We’re still wearing gloves. We’ll still handle them carefully.”

Because of this, the special event is not recommended for children.

In order to select an artifact for the event, an application must be submitted. Applications are available at the museum and will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. The application must be submitted by Friday, Feb. 9 in order to give curators time to prepare to move artifacts.

If you don’t have anything specific in mind, you can still show up on Feb. 22 to examine and learn about the artifacts that other guests have chosen.

“We’ll have artifacts, regardless,” said Smith. “You can just come to be a part of it.”


Alberni Valley Museum collections curator Kirsten Smith opens the lid to an early 20th century music box. This is one of the artifacts that will be available to view up close on Thursday, Feb. 22. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

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