B.C. Maritime Museum spruces up naval gallery

Anissa Paulsen by CFB Esquimalt dry dock model

Anissa Paulsen, Director of Exhibits and Visitor Engagement, stands beside the CFB Esquimalt dry dock model.

The Maritime Museum of British Columbia is making significant revisions to its naval gallery.

The gallery is being revitalized to “celebrate the story of the Royal Canadian Navy,” said Anissa Paulsen, the museum’s director of exhibits and engagement.

“The Naval Role in the Development of British Columbia is the working title for the new gallery, which will look at how the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy have both influenced the development and identity of British Columbia throughout history and today. During this project, the museum will explore ways to portray the experiences of current navy families within the context of Canadian naval history.

Re-development will occur in three stages, with the first stage focusing on the early history and significance of the Esquimalt Graving Dock. The second stage will feature the first Canadian naval vessel – HMCS Rainbow – as part of a tribute to the anniversary of First World War.

Part of the re-development plan is to include a more user-friendly approach to showcase local history so children and adults can engage with the exhibit. As a result, the third stage will include a “life at sea” section where visitors can better imagine life on board a navy vessel; for example, through an interactive display.

The first stage of the gallery renewal is currently underway with plans to finish in June 2014. This stage will highlight the importance of the Esquimalt Graving Dock in the development of Esquimalt and the City of Victoria.

“Our historic interactions with the water are critical to our identity as British Columbians today,” Paulsen said. “Esquimalt developed around the dockyard and the graving dock was huge part of that development.”

The plan to update the naval exhibit began last year when the Naval Officers Association Foundation donated $5,000 to the museum for this project. Paulsen has been connecting with the local naval community at CFB Esquimalt to establish a modern context for the exhibit. Retired Commodore Jan Drent, a long-time supporter and volunteer at the museum, is advising Paulsen on naval aspects of the exhibit.

The museum is keen to embrace the local military community and will host a “Navy Night” to welcome navy families to the opening of the revitalized exhibit after stage two is completed later this summer.

The Maritime Museum – with a staff of seven – relies mainly on volunteers for exhibit renewals and they are hoping to find more people to contribute to this project. Interested parties can visit the website, www.mmbc.ca, for more information on volunteering.

-Chelsea Falconer, NPA Office

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  1. Ron Bauer says:

    Does Commodore Jan Drent have information about the SS Sudbury?

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