The Qualicum Beach Museum’s new manager and assistant manager are excited about the future.
Lorraine Bell, who has been with the museum for about eight years, took over as manager in July and was joined by Kisselle Reid, the museum’s new assistant manager, in September.
Bell said the museum will soon finish phase 2 of its powerhouse project, which began last year thanks to funding from the province via the Community Economic Recovery Investment Program (CERIP) – Unique Heritage Infrastructure Program.
The building was updated in keeping with its heritage status, Bell added. This year staff will complete an exhibit about power, energy and climate change. The powerhouse, originally built in 1929, is one of 12 sites listed in Qualicum Beach as part of Canada’s Historical Places.
The museum will soon begin a new strategic planning process to build an organization that is sustainable in today’s changing times.
Staff are also focused on a plan to make the museum grounds more accessible, including an elevator if the funds are there, according to Bell.
“A lot of our community members have mobility challenges,” she said. “So we just want to make sure the museum is accessible for everybody.”
The plan will be put together this year, with the work carried out over the next two or three years.
Bell, born and raised in Qualicum Beach, completed a graduate degree in geography and has lived in Vancouver, Victoria, southeast Asia and Montreal.
She returned approximately 15 years ago to raise a family and also recently completed a second graduate degree in adult education and museum studies.
Reid is originally from the Yukon Territory, although her dad’s family is from Qualicum Beach.
“I spent every summer here growing up, and have spent a lot of winters here for the last decade or so,” she said.
Reid, who has a background in archaeology and anthropology, worked in the Yukon and northern B.C. for about six years doing excavations and cultural resource management. “And then I took a little bit of a detour and I started working for Wildfire and Emergency Services up in the Yukon.”
They have big plans for the newly-restored powerhouse building, recently host to the traveling exhibit ‘Broken Promises’, which explores the dispossession and internment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War. Bell said the exhibit was visited by well over 1,000 people and prompted lots of good feedback.
The powerhouse is currently home to a collaborative art competition with the ‘Fridays for Future’ high school students group.
Students submitted artwork with the theme of the environment and their ideas about climate change.
“It’s a beautiful and really compelling slideshow that they put together,” Bell said. “Of these various artworks that high school kids have done to kind of express their feelings and concerns about the environment.”
The climate change exhibit was designed to be light and can be rolled out of the building for a future traveling exhibit, a community-based exhibit, or to host a lecture.
“We’re hoping it can be a really community-engaged public space,” Bell said.
The museum is coming off a very busy summer event season. Bell said about 400 people came out for Children’s Day at the museum, the first such event since 2019.
One current exhibit is about Truth and Reconciliation, reflecting on the history of residential schools and Orange Shirt Day.
For the first week of October, the museum will be open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. After that the museum will shift to winter hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. or by appointment.
The museum will host a ‘QB Reads’ event with author Shanon Sinn in the powerhouse on Oct. 25 at p.m. (Dress warmly)
’Kids Spooky Day’ for preschoolers and parents/caregivers will go Oct. 27, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and will include a Halloween-themed museum scavenger hunt, small prizes and craft tables.