In the news this week there are stories about two very different museum projects that are proposed for this snowy resort town.
One is the Audain Art Museum, which council officially inked a memorandum of understanding with on Tuesday (Dec. 18). The other is a dream by some in the community to relocate the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame and Museum to Whistler and by doing so expand the local Whistler Museum.
It strikes us that in this tale of two museums there is a parable for a tale of two Whistlers.
Mere months after negotiations started with real estate magnate and prolific patron of the arts Michael Audain, art lovers can practically bank of having one of the world’s finest collections of First Nations masks and an amazing amount of contemporary Canadian West Coast art located here.
There is absolutely no denying that this is a feather in the cap of all those working towards cultural tourism as an economic driver for Whistler. The benefit of having a cultural establishment like this in Whistler goes beyond just an attraction for tourists.
As residents of this fine resort town we all benefit from having access to culture in its various forms. There are some who would argue the concentration of cultural pursuits in a community this size also establishes a local creative class and that fosters a dynamic environment, which in turn attracts business and capital. By some, we are of course referring to social and economic theorist Richard Florida.
We have Mr. Audain and the more than $14 million of his own money that he is putting up to build the art museum and then fund its operations into the future to thank for that. The Google search of his name probably hadn’t even loaded before those involved were clamouring to make this idea become a reality.
Then there is the Ski Hall of Fame endeavour, and while it is a wonderful idea, the fact that it is still missing the necessary $10 million to move forward, it might just be a day late and a dollar short.
What was inspiring about that proposal, however, was that it would not only showcase snow sports, something obviously big here, but it would also help to establish a bigger profile for our local museum. The Whistler Museum is awesome, but it is small. Think of what it can do to celebrate the local history and culture with an expanded space?
These two different museums are like the two sides of Whistler. The big homes, expensive cars and disposable income of many who have invested in being part of this community to those who work hard and live small in order to be a part of this place and pursue a passion for the mountains.
Both are what make this community special, both are a part of the social fabric that we love. Both are very much part of what Whistler is all about.