Nanaimo’s artifacts and archives could eventually all be kept in the same place.
Discussions are underway to combine the Nanaimo Museum and the Nanaimo Community Archives and bring them under the same roof at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
Debbie Trueman, who is retiring as general manager of the museum, said the two organizations have been talking about merging for a number of years.
“Once we got into this space and got organized, it looked like a good opportunity to bring them back again the way it used to be in the old years of the museum,” Trueman said. “We’ve come so far and our staff has progressed so far, that I think we’re capable now of [that]. Our two organizations together are going to provide a much stronger voice than each of us can separately.”
She said the merger is a “long-term” project and said it was probably too early to announce it, but she wanted to do so before her coming retirement. She said with the museum currently undergoing a “collection assessment,” it’s the right time to be thinking about how it’s utilizing its space.
“Now it’s more about logistics and details at the board level about how we’re going to work it out,” Trueman said.
The Nanaimo Community Archives are currently located in a downstairs space in the Nanaimo Art Gallery building and Christine Meutzner, manager of the archives, said there was always the understanding that the art gallery would eventually need to utilize the space.
Meutzner said the conference centre, with its environmental controls, is the best building in the city for the archives to be located, though she said she still needs to take a tape measure and physically measure the available area to ensure it will suffice.
“We have to make sure there’s enough space that we can grow into it,” she said. “It’s part of the succession planning for when I [retire], too.”
Trueman and Meutzner suggested the museum and archives being in the same location might make things simpler for visitors.
“They often bring us artifacts and these guys archives,” Meutzner said. “If we’re in the same place, that decision, or that routing, could be done right here.”
There will still need to be discussions among the two boards to determine if the societies will merge, remain separate or if the archives will become a department of the museum.