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Fabulous Forests And Marvellous Mushrooms exhibit coming to Smithers

The Smithers Art Gallery and the Bulkley Valley Museum are looking for artists to participate
Different species on display at BC’s Marvellous Mushrooms exhibit, hosted by the Royal BC Museum. (Royal BC Museum)

The Bulkley Valley (BV) Museum and the Smithers Art Gallery are collaborating to bring a Fabulous Forests And Marvellous Mushrooms exhibit to town in the new year.

“Mushrooms are pretty cool,” said BV Museum curator Kira Westby.

“I think it’s going to be really a neat exhibit with hopefully some different stuff we can all connect to while it’s here.”

The idea for the collaboration developed after the museum decided to bring in the exhibit BC’s Marvelous Mushrooms. The traveling exhibit is hosted by the Royal BC Museum and will feature infographics next to mushroom models.

“I’m always trying to keep my eye out for exhibits we can bring in that are, you know, sort of showing a bit broader B.C. history and bringing that into the community,” said Westby.

Smithers Art Gallery hosts a Community Art Show every year, where emerging and experienced artists are invited to submit pieces in any medium. The theme for 2024 will be funghi and forests.

The gallery decided to expand on the mushroom theme to include forests, as mushrooms play a critical role in regulating ecosystems in forests across B.C.

“It is for the community,” said Smithers Art Gallery gallery manager Nicole Chernish. “It’s just so fun to see what your neighbors are doing and the people down the street and just see all the talent that’s in this area.”

All types of art forms will be accepted by the gallery, including: photography, sculpting, painting, drawing, quilting and carvings. The gallery even has a television screen to display digital media.

“It’s incredibly vulnerable to put your art out in front of people,” said Chernish. “This is a fun way to put your art out there without a lot of consequence, you can put it for sale, you can not have it for sale, completely up to you.”

People of all ages are invited to participate, including kids and teenagers.

“We’re hoping to get the school board involved, we’ll see if we can get some school classes involved as well and encourage kids to bring in their work because they’re very excited by mushrooms as well,” said Chernish.

The mushroom exhibit is timely and relevant, explained Westby.

In recent years, mushrooms have gained popularity in home decor and fashion trends. Many people enjoy cooking with mushrooms, and the medicinal use of mushrooms is becoming increasingly common. Recreational use of magic mushrooms is also becoming more socially acceptable, as mushrooms were historically sacred in many spiritual practices, including Aztec culture. And modern science is starting to see more utility in the active ingredient psilocybin in treating certain conditions such as schizophrenia.

“Right now a lot of people are really into it,” said Westby. “We’ve been chatting with the Smithereens Mushroom’s folks about it, were going to try to get something from them in the museum well.”

Smithereens Mushrooms is a farm and mushroom processing plant in Smithers. The company specializes in producing medicinal tinctures, as well as dehydrated mushrooms for cooking.

If the conditions are right, Westby would like to see a growing box of Smithereens Mushrooms in the museum. If the temperature and humidity levels make this impractical, Smithereens Mushrooms could adapt by providing photos detailing their processing.

Westby said another possible collaboration is a cooking class with a “local flair,” taught by Smithereens Mushrooms.

“I think it’s going to be a really cool thing when it’s done,” said Westby.

“It’s going to be awesome,” said Chernish. “We hope to see from the whole community that everyone gets excited about forests and fungi and wants to put together some artwork.”

The exhibit will start on Jan. 30, 2024. The Smithers Art Gallery portion will end Feb. 24, 2024, with the BV Museum portion lasting a bit longer.

The artist application form is due on Jan. 20, 2024, and can be found at

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About the Author: Morgan Powell, Local Journalism Initiative

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