We acknowledge that we live and work on unceded Indigenous territories and we thank the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations for their hospitality.
Using text and images, this booklet focuses on the varied elements that make up the Royal British Columbia Museum and Archives – its history, physical components (primarily the exhibits), functions, and activities – and on promoting its glowing future. On first glance it appears to be a handsome souvenir that a visitor might purchase to take away, continuing the tradition of similar publications produced by the Museum over the years. The last page indicates the publication is also intended as an exhibit companion and guidebook.
The booklet’s photographic coverage and general descriptions provide a suitable memento of exhibit highlights. As a guidebook, however, it may be hard to follow, given there are no museum maps or directions (other than the headings Second Floor and Third Floor). The images range from exceptional to oversaturated, weak, or poorly cropped (15, 33, 35, and 51), and image captions are often missing, reducing the book’s overall usefulness as a guide. Some titling is missing (62), typographical errors are in need of correction (8, 34), and the chapter and thematic hierarchy of information is not clearly differentiated.
The inclusion of Bill Reid’s narration, “One Terrible Year,” explaining the smallpox epidemic and its effects, adds a very compelling and useful component to the publication (36). If this level of interpretive content had been included consistently throughout the guide it would be an exceptional exhibit companion.
In conclusion, this publication would serve well as a souvenir but is not a comprehensive guide.
Highlights: Royal British Columbia Museum and Archives
Gerald Truscott and Susan Mayse
Victoria: Royal BC Museum, 2015. 64 pp. $14.95 paper.