Museum curator Kira Westby (left) and art gallery manager Nicole Chernish celebrate the reopening of the Central Park Building June 1. (BV Museum photo)

Art Gallery and Museum reopen

Gallery and museum also have new exhibits to check out

The Bulkley Valley Museum and the Smithers Art Gallery, which are both housed in the Central Park Building, have reopened their doors to the public.

The hours are limited, social distancing guidelines are in affect and the public washrooms are off limits.

Museum Curator Kira Westby said it feels great to have people in their doors again but it has been a bit of a slow uptake, probably in part due to the limited hours they currently have.

“I’m hoping that as we adjust to the new cleaning schedules that we have implemented that we can expand to more regular summer hours in the next few weeks,” she said. “We’ve seen great response to the educational videos, online exhibit, blog posts, and newspaper articles that we’ve been sharing while we were closed, so I feel that we have been able to remain connected to the community.”

At the beginning of the pandemic she admits she was really worried about how they were going to stay in people’s minds when they had so many things to worry about, but she hopes that they helped provide a bit of a diversion and some interesting content over the past two months. “We’ve still had research requests coming in, and were able to spend some of the time catching up on cataloguing and digitizing new materials to make accessible on our Collections Online website.”

The museum currently has a new exhibit up called “From the Back Room” and is an expansion of the newspaper column they have been publishing, supported by the Interior News, since 2015.

“We have over 3600 artifacts in our collection, but like most museums, only have space to display something like 1-2% of those at a time,” she explained. “And we have many artifacts that are very interesting on their own, but don’t always fit into the theme of an exhibit, so they don’t get displayed. This exhibit is more artifact rather than history-centric; it doesn’t have one narrative story. Instead it features an assortment of different items that have either never been displayed before, like our Eva Anderson trunk, which came with Eva to the Valley when she moved here as a war bride in the 1940s, or that have not been displayed for quite some time, like our kicksled and the Watson’s Store cash register. It’s still just a small number of the artifacts we have, but it gives visitors a chance to see some things that have been hiding out in the back room for awhile. We’ve digitized many of our artifacts through photography, and people can access those through our Collections Online website, but it’s not the same as seeing them in person. Which is why I am so glad we are open again!”

Across the hall, the art gallery also has a new exhibit.

“We will be modifying our shows over the next number of months to move to more of a “pop-up” gallery which will have more artists in the gallery at a time and allow people to view, purchase and take home art-work immediately,” said Gallery Manager Nicole Chernish

Both the gallery and the museum are open Monday to Friday 12-4.

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