By Gagandeep Ghuman
The North Vancouver Museum and Archives is getting rid of one of it’s most unique and interesting artifact—a submarine. NVMA is disposing the model submarine—Aquarius 1—because it is too big to fit into the new museum or the new warehouse space the organisation is working to relocate its artifacts.
Built in 1973 by North Vancouver based International Hydrodynamics, it was donated to the museum in 1979. In a report to the CNV council, NVMA said it had earlier planned to include the submarine in the new museum. However, later the museum concluded it was simply too large to fit into the new space.
Even if the gallery plans were to be adjusted, the submersible would be too large to fit in the new museum and would have to be brought in even before the internal walls were put in, the report said. It is also too large to fit into the new collection warehouse. The Historical Diving Society, based in North Vancouver, has expressed interest in the submarine, although the museum plans to notify other non-profits about the availability of the submersible.
As part of a deaccession process that started in 2012, NVMA has disposed over 10,000 artifacts as it prepares a move to a new smaller collection warehouse and new museum on Esplanade Avenue in Lower Mainland. Cooking utensils, hand and power tools, jewellery, stovetop kettles, books containing transit tickets, household scales and weights, globes featuring maps of the world, dental molds, sewing thimbles, audio records and wrist watches and pocket watches are just some of the items that the museum would no longer be keeping as it downsizes for its new facilities.
In a report to the City of North Vancouver council, the museum says it’s disposing items that are ‘fragmented or damaged, redundant and mundane household objects and tools with little connection to North Vancouver or exhibitable qualities.’ Karen Dearlove, a curator with NVMA, said the concepts and policies about caring for and maintaining museum collections have changed since the 1970s.
She said the NVMA collection had grown to over 20,000 objects, most of which were housed in a warehouse that lacked adequate environment controls for properly storing museum objects. Since the museum started the process to evaluate items, it found that there were no records available nearly 5,000 objects and many did not have direct relevance or association with the history of North Vancouver.
“The NVMA started a deaccessioning process to bring the collection down to a more manageable size, and ensure that the objects that remain in the collection have direct relevance and association with the history of North Vancouver, are in good condition to be exhibited, and are not overly redundant,” she said.
NVMA anticipates the deaccessioning project will be complete by early 2019. There is more to the deaccession story than just old artifacts that are no longer relevant to history, if you hear what Bruce Sinski has to say.
Cartoonist and CNV council candidate Bruce Sinski raised the issue in his political cartoon blog, https://mystacheonline.com/. Sinski said the issue goes back to 2016 when NVMA agreed to creating the new museum on the first floor of a condo development by Polygon.
He said it was a decision taken in ‘panic mode’ as the NVMA was in need for a new museum and it jumped at the opportunity without giving serious thought to size and if there is enough space to house the artifacts. One large item besides the Aquarius submersible unable to fit within the new limited confines of the museum is their heritage street car, he said.
“There is no word yet whether there is room for it inside the museum or if it could be situated outside in front of the museum blocking pedestrian traffic,” he said.